RELX PLC (NYSE:RELX) Q1 2020 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript
Jul 23, 2020 • 03:30 pm ET
Sir Anthony Habgood
Good morning, everyone, and welcome, and thank you for joining our 2020 Interim Presentation, which, for the first time for RELX, is by audiocast.
Despite the challenging environment from around mid-March onwards, we have continued to pursue our strategic priorities successfully. Our three largest business areas, STM, Risk and Legal, together grew sterling revenue and adjusted operating profit. And all three individually grew both underlying revenue and underlying adjusted operating profits.
The whole organization responded extraordinarily well and rose to the challenge of maintaining high levels of customer service in hugely changed working conditions. With almost everyone working remotely at the peak, this was a remarkable achievement and is a testament to the quality and dedication of our staff around the world.
I hope you will also agree with me that this was a commendable financial result across about 85% of the company. Our Exhibitions business was hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and because of COVID-related restrictions, suffered an almost total lack of revenue for three months and, therefore, inevitably went into loss, which caused our adjusted earnings per share to be 19% lower than last year at 37 pence. Given the resilience of our three largest business areas and our strong financial position and cash flow, we have maintained our interim dividend at last year's level of 13.6 pence per share.
Our long history of strong ESG performance, much of which has been in areas where we can use our skills to make a unique contribution, was again enhanced by the actions of Elsevier during the first half. Since January, Elsevier has mobilized all of its research content, data analytics know-how and clinical insights to support the scientific and medical response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Elsevier's Novel Coronavirus Information Center provides researchers with free access to over 36,000 articles. And to date, the number of article downloads from our free coronavirus content offering exceeds 100 million. So thank you all for listening. Erik and Nick will now take you through the interim results in detail. Erik?
Thank you, Anthony. Good morning, everybody. Thank you for taking the time to join us on our call today. As you've probably seen from our press release this morning, our three largest business areas, which together accounted for 84% of revenue and 87% of operating profit in the full-year 2019, have held up well. All three delivered positive underlying revenue growth and adjusted operating profit growth in the first half, with cash conversion rates in line with recent years.
Our Exhibition business has been significantly impacted by COVID-19 with a decline in revenue and a move into an operating loss for the first half. Throughout the pandemic, our first priority has been the health and safety of our colleagues, our customers and the wider community in which we operate. In our three largest business areas, we maintained product and service quality at high levels, and our Exhibition business has responded well to a challenging environment. We have also continued to make progress on