Man United lifts profit as retail arm scores big

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London - Manchester United’s fiscal second-quarter profit rose 4.2 percent as commercial revenue advanced, the defending champion that is struggling in the English Premier League this season said yesterday.

Adjusted profit for the three months to December last year rose to £19.8 million (R360m) from £19m a year earlier.

Total revenue rose to £122.9m from £110.1m, with commercial income up 19 percent to £42.3m. Broadcasting revenue increased 19 percent to £46.9m, while matchday income fell 3.7 percent to £33.7m.

The profit figure was adjusted for factors related to the club’s initial public offering in 2012, the repurchase of senior secured notes and other items, the company said yesterday.

Meanwhile, Jefferies Group reasserted its “buy” recommendation on Manchester United even as the soccer team’s shares hover around a 12-month low and the team struggles with its worst campaign start since the Premier League was formed in 1992.

Jefferies expects an 11 percent rise in quarterly revenue to £122m, “driven largely by growth in the company’s commercial arm”.

Manchester United’s shares, which started trading on the New York Stock Exchange in August 2012, slipped below $15 (R166) to a 52-week low last month. They fell as low as $14.77 on Monday. The initial public offering price was $14.

“Although the team has struggled on the field of late, we remain optimistic,” Jefferies analyst Randal Konik said. “We will look for additional colour around wage growth as well as any updates on a new kit deal with Nike or potentially another sponsor.”

The club’s 13-year jersey deal with Nike, worth £303m, expires next year. Adidas, Puma and Warrior Sports, a unit of New Balance Athletic Shoe, had expressed an interest in replacing Nike, the Independent newspaper reported.

The club, owned by the US-based Glazer family, was recently passed by Bayern Munich as soccer’s third-richest club by sales, Deloitte research showed. Even so, it was “well-placed” to regain the spot after this season on increased broadcast and sponsorship income, the consultancy said. Real Madrid and Barcelona top Deloitte’s annual rankings. - Bloomberg

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