VNU, the Netherlands-headquartered business information and market research giant, yesterday saw its shares fall six per cent to a two-year nadir after warning of “a significant decline in advertising” in its first half. Particularly badly hit was VNU unit, the US advertising bible AdWeek, which had experienced a “dramatic” decrease in advertising income.

The share price plunge was exacerbated by the group’s statement on Wednesday that its earlier forecast of low double-digit growth in cash earnings per share had been revised downward to “at least five per cent” .

Organic revenues within the business information unit had declined by one per cent as a result of the ad slowdown, while organic operating income had slipped 14%-16% depending on currency fluctuations.

But the half-year figures were “not representative of the new portfolio, which has improved VNU's potential for organic growth significantly,” insisted the company. In particular, they excluded the recent addition to the group of AC Nielsen, the globe’s largest market research organisation, which had posted first half revenue growth of seven per cent.

News source: Financial Times