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July 24, 2008

The Fallon brothers: A counter-cyclical media dynasty

By Peter Kirwan MM blog

Those counter-cylical brothers-in-media Ivan Fallon (The Independent) and Padraic Fallon (Euromoney) will have plenty to discuss on family get-togethers this summer.

The Indy is going south with the rest of the consumer media. But as today’s trading update for Q2 proved, Padriac Fallon’s Euromoney Institutional Investor is firing on all (or most) of its cylinders.

Euromoney’s home page gives a flavour of the exotica generated by the company’s employees — everything from Petroleum Economist (which must be rocking at the moment) to a two-day summit for tax specialists in Rome in September that will cost £1,295 to attend.

Padraic Fallon started out editing Euromoney (the magazine) 34 years ago and is now the company’s £2m-a-year chairman. For years, while many in the B2B sector were content to live off dwindling recruitment revenues, Fallon perfected a business model that now defines the ideal.

That’s to say: minimal dependence on advertising, a big events business — and, if you can get it, plenty of subscription revenues generated by high-quality specialist content.

Less than one-fifth of Euromoney’s revenues come from advertising. Subscriptions account for nearly 40%, and the balance is generated by a mix of databases, conferences and training.

In March, the company reported revenues up by 7%. Today, the company unveiled even faster growth. During Q3, revenues rose by 13%.

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How has a company that made its name in the financial sector managed this feat? The answer partly lies with Euromoney’s focus on emerging markets, where revenues are roaring upwards at 25%+ per annum.

The company’s interest in booming commodity markets must also have something to do with it — although Euromoney does seem noticeably coy about the performance of Metal Bulletin, which it acquired for £220m in 2006.

Neither do today’s interims specifically mention what’s happening inside the company’s core financial publishing division. But during the six months to March, revenues in this division fell by just 1%.

This feels like a creditable performance, one that reinforces the currently bullish logic of both the FT and The Economist: in a slowdown, the demand for high-quality information about what’s happening in financial markets is relatively robust.

Looking ahead, Euromoney isn’t expecting any problems. Today’s trading statement suggests that the revenue pipeline for Q4 “looks similar to this time last year and [is] in line with the board’s expectations”.

Nice work if you can get it.

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