UPDATE 2-Huntsworth profit up on new business, FY on track

* New business wins include Novartis, J&J and Pfizer

* H1 pretax profit 12 mln stg vs 11 mln stg

* Ups interim div to 0.90 pence vs 0.75 pence

* Says can weather cuts to public spending

(Adds CEO comments, updates shares)

By Paul Sandle and Debasmita Ghosh

LONDON, Aug 26 (BestGrowthStock) – (BestGrowthStock) – British public
relations firm Huntsworth Plc (HNTS.L: ) posted a 9 percent rise
in its first-half pretax profit, helped by new business wins,
and said it could weather cuts to government spending.

Chief Executive Peter Chadlington said public relations had
already shown its resilience during the recession.

“The thing that is most likely to affect us is any
significant decline in public sector spending,” he said in an
interview on Thursday.

“We saw quite a dramatic cutback after the coalition
government was formed, but we replaced that immediately with
other work.”

He said cuts in advertising usually helped the industry, as
companies shifted some of the money in ad budgets to boosting
its brands with PR.

“If there really were a severe double-dip the thing that
would go is advertising, and if advertising is cut we find that
improves our position and not diminishes it,” he said.

Huntsworth, whose public relations brands include Citigate,
Grayling and Red, raised its interim dividend by 20 percent to
0.90 pence.

“We believe that we are on target to meet full year
management expectations and to achieve more than 7 percent
like-for-like revenue growth rates during 2011,” said
Chadlington, who founded PR agency Shandwick in 1974, which was
later sold to Interpublic (IPG.N: ).

Citigate, Huntsworth’s financial PR brand, was seeing some
pick-up in the traditional M&A and IPO sectors, Chadlington
said, and had also diversified to include corporate and public
affairs.

For the January-June period, Huntsworth reported a pretax
profit of 12 million pounds ($19 million), compared with 11
million pounds a year ago.

Revenue increased 14 percent to 87 million pounds.

The company, whose business wins in the first six months
included those from Novartis (NOVN.VX: ), Johnson & Johnson
(JNJ.N: ) and Pfizer (PFE.N: ), said its net new business wins were
up 11 percent compared with last year.

At 0917 GMT, shares of Huntsworth, which have gained 12
percent since the beginning of the year, were down about 1
percent.

For more stories on the impact of the British government’s
spending squeeze, click on: [ID:nLDE6720PZ].
($1=.6460 Pound)
(Editing by Jarshad Kakkrakandy and David Cowell)

UPDATE 2-Huntsworth profit up on new business, FY on track