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Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS)

  Print      Mail a friend       Annual reports

Tuesday 07 January, 2003

Taylor Nelson Sofres

Trading Statement

Taylor Nelson Sofres PLC
07 January 2003

For release at 07.00                                             7 January 2003

                            Taylor Nelson Sofres plc
                            Pre-close trading update

In line with current market practice, Taylor Nelson Sofres, a world leader in
market information, issues the following trading update ahead of its preliminary
results announcement on 10 March 2003.

In summary, reported turnover is expected to be broadly in line with market
expectations.  However, the steady performance seen in most continuous and
syndicated services has not been sufficient entirely to outweigh the slowdown in
customised activities, experienced by the market information industry as the
second half progressed.  This has led to organic turnover growth for the year as
a whole being relatively flat.  Against this background, the group has achieved
margin improvement and strong cash generation.


Continuous and syndicated services performed well, with contract renewals coming
through in the normal pattern, as clients continued to recognise the value to
their business of market tracking and measurement.  The one exception has been
media intelligence, where the group's progress has been restricted by a lack of
recovery in advertising and PR, which are the drivers for market growth in this
area.  The market for customised information has become progressively more
difficult in the second half than had been anticipated at the time of the
interim results.  The weakening of the US dollar has had a slightly negative
effect on reported turnover, which has otherwise benefited from the successful
integration of acquisitions made during the year.


The UK will report a decline in underlying activities, due to the ongoing effect
of the loss of the BARB contract and further weakness in custom business towards
the end of the second half.  After a strong first half in France, which was
driven both by election activity and the early completion of a number of major
contracts, performance slowed and the year as a whole is expected to show
limited improvement.  The Rest of Europe has improved at a steady rate through
the year.


The US custom business has maintained good underlying growth through the year,
again outperforming a relatively flat market, at a time when it has also
successfully integrated two strategically important acquisitions.  With media
intelligence seeing some decline, the underlying performance of the region as a
whole is expected to be at a similar level to 2001.

Asia Pacific

The group again achieved strong underlying improvement in this region, with a
good performance from both its consumer panel and customised operations.

Operating margin

The group has continued to improve operating margin for the year.  In line with
strategy, there has been an ongoing increase in the proportion of the group's
business represented by continuous and syndicated services and it has
experienced no unusual pricing pressure on renewal of continuous research
contracts.  At the same time, the group has continued to improve operational
effectiveness and to control its costs.  The margin development associated with
these factors has been held back by slower than anticipated growth and
competitive pressure in both the customised market and the media intelligence
sector.  Margin improvement, therefore, is likely to be below the targeted 50
basis points for 2002, with further progress expected in 2003.

Cash flow/interest cover

The positive cash flow achieved in the first half of 2002 has continued through
the rest of the year.  As a result, the net debt position at the end of 2002 is
expected to be slightly lower than at the end of the previous year.  Interest
cover against EBITDA has benefited accordingly and is expected to be between 7.0
and 7.5x.


The timing and speed of any upturn in the market for custom research will be
dependent on the rate of economic recovery.  In the meantime, the continuous and
syndicated market continues to maintain steady growth and the group's new
products and services are being well received.  The group, therefore,
anticipates achieving further organic turnover growth
in 2003.

For further information, please contact:

David Lowden, Finance Director                      +44 (0)20 8967 4009
Janis Parks, Head of Investor Relations             +44 (0)20 8967 1584
Margaret George, Citigate Dewe Rogerson             +44 (0)20 7638 9571

Email to: [email protected]

                      This information is provided by RNS
            The company news service from the London Stock Exchange

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