RELX PLC (NYSE:RELX) Q4 2019 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript
Feb 13, 2020 • 04:00 am ET
Sir Anthony Habgood
So good morning, everybody, and welcome to our 2019 results presentation. Thank you for coming in. And those of you on our webcast, thank you for joining us. 2019 was another good year for the company with a 4% underlying revenue growth, converting into 7% constant currency EPS growth and 5% sterling revenue growth converting into 10% sterling adjusted earnings per share. As you know, we are proposing a 9% increase in full year dividend to 45.7p, and we also again had good cash flow conversion at 96%. We continued in the year to build on our strong ESG performance, and this was again recognized in the high ratings given to us by several external agencies. To cite just two of them, we were ranked second in the S&P Global 1200 by CSRHUB for ESG, and we retained our AAA ESG rating with MSCI. On a more personal note, we also announced this morning that after over 10 years as Chair, I have decided to retire from the board when a successor has been appointed.
A comprehensive search process is now underway, led by our Senior Independent Director, Wolfhart Hauser. The group has made great progress over the past decade. It has a strong, established board and management team and is well positioned, both strategically and operationally for the future. I believe that this is the year, both from my own personal perspective and from that of the company in which to make a change of Chair.
I will now hand over to Erik, who with Nick, will take you through the results, strategy and our prospects.
Thank you, Anthony. Good morning, everybody. Thank you for coming and for taking the time to be here today. As you've probably seen from our press release this morning, our positive financial performance continued in 2019 with underlying revenue growth across all four business areas. We also continue to make good progress on our strategic and operational priorities with our primary focus on the organic development of increasingly sophisticated analytics and decision tools supported by selective acquisitions of targeted data, analytics and exhibition assets that support our organic growth strategies. Underlying revenue growth for the year was 4%. Underlying adjusted operating profit growth was 5%. Earnings per share growth at constant currencies was 7%. And we're proposing a full year dividend increase of 9%. All four business areas again delivered underlying revenue growth as well as adjusted operating profit margin expansion. So let's look at the results of each business area. In STM, key business trends remained positive. Underlying revenue growth was 2%, in line with the prior year, with the first half phasing effects unwinding in the second half. Good growth in electronic revenues was again partly offset by continued print declines. In primary research, we continue to enhance customer value by building out broader content sets, more sophisticated analytics and evolving our technology platforms.
The number of articles submissions to our subscription journals continued to grow strongly. Our open access publishing program,