UPDATE 1-UK publisher Future expects FY profit above consensus on online demand

(Adds CEO comment, details on deals and sales)

Feb 19 (Reuters) - British publisher Future Plc on Friday projected annual profit ahead of current market estimates after reporting a robust start to the year, driven by higher online demand during the coronavirus crisis.

The company, whose titles include Homes & Gardens, PC Gamer, TV Times and Woman’s Weekly, also disclosed the purchase of Mozo for A$30 million ($23.38 million), enabling Future to combine the Australian price comparison website’s financial services insight with its operations.

The London-listed firm recently completed the 594 million pounds ($793 million) acquisition of GoCo Group, the owner of price comparison website Go Compare, linking titles such as Ideal Home and Country Life with information on choosing financial products.

“Price comparison for services is a natural complement in our strategy to enhance and expand our eCommerce proposition and monetisation opportunities beyond product purchase...We have already started on the integration of both businesses,” Future’s Chief Executive Officer Zillah Byng-Thorne said in a statement.

The company said it benefited from strong online engagement in the four months ended Jan. 31, notably during Black Friday and Christmas.

Future said its media division revenue grew strongly thanks to e-commerce and digital advertising and its magazine division performed in line with last year, while the events business remained under pressure from the COVID-19 pandemic. ($1 = 1.2830 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Sriraj Kalluvila)