Continued structural growth and events bounce-back
-Group results in line with expectations
-Organic revenue growth of 42% with double-digit revenue growth in all segments
- Organic adjusted EBITDA growth of 38%
London: Ascential plc (LSE: ASCL.L), the specialist information, analytics and eCommerce optimisation company, today announces Group results in line with expectations for the six-month period to 30 June 2022.
Double-digitrevenue growth in all four segments, reflecting continuing structural growth in attractive end markets boosted by a bounce-back from major events.
Digital Commerce delivered another period of strong revenue growth (up 15% on an Organic basis and 19% on a Proforma basis, with Execution (72% of revenue) up 19% on an Organic basis and 23% on a Proforma basis). The business continued to successfully extend and expand its addressable market with the acquisitions of Sellics (Germany, covering Amazon sellers) and Intrepid (Southeast Asia, covering Shopee and Lazada). Integration of acquisitions is fully underway.
Product Design continued its acceleration (revenue up 14%), with strong subscription billings driven by non-fashion products and record levels of customer retention.
Marketing saw significant growth (revenue up 88%), with the strong return of the Cannes Lions Festival where revenue levels exceeded 2019.
Retail & Financial Services also grew very strongly (revenue up 74%), through the continued resurgence of Money20/20 Europe where revenue was 30% up on 2019.
Group results in line with market expectations.
Revenue of £260.7m (H1 2021: £154.3m).
Reported revenue growth of £106.4m or 69% (organic: 42%, proforma: 40%)
Digital revenues (including awards) now over 70% of total revenue mix (based on the last twelve months to June 2022).
Adjusted EBITDA of £67.2m (H1 2021: £42.8m). Margin of 25.8% (H1 2021: 27.8%).
Reported growth of £24.4m or 57% (organic: 38%, proforma: 20%).
Digital Commerce Adjusted EBITDA of £1.8m (H1 2021: £10.8m) with H1 margins suppressed as we invested ahead of revenue growth in delivery capacity, product development and sales and marketing.
Reported operating loss of £35.1m (H1 2021: £2.4m) stated after Adjusting items of £89.7m (H1 2021: £36.2m) reflecting:
Amortisation of acquired intangibles (£17.5m) and share-based payments (£7.6m).
Non-Tradingitems (£33.2m) for acquisition earnouts, transaction and integration costs and the expensing of build costs for our new ERP and Salesforce systems.
A non-cash charge of £31.4m for the impairment of the Edge Digital Shelf intangibles with a strategic shift to refocus these foundational services solely on the leading global marketplaces to enable greater future profits.
Adjusted diluted EPS profit from continuing operations of 8.0p (H1 2021: 5.7p).
Operating cash flow conversion of 128% (H1 2021: 182%). Cash consideration paid for the acquisitions of Sellics and Intrepid and settlement of deferred consideration partly offset by strong operating cash generation, with closing net debt at £172.7m, a leverage ratio of 1.6x EBITDA (December 2021: £73.8m and 0.9x EBITDA).
"Ascential has had an excellent first half of the year, with strong growth in group revenue and profit in line with expectations. Each of our segments delivered double digit revenue growth: all the more pleasing given the challenging macro backdrop. We are making good progress with our mission to make Digital Commerce the number one, global real-time platform that powers eCommerce by enhancing our capabilities, expanding our partnerships with leading eCommerce marketplaces and increasing our addressable market through complementary acquisitions.
Despite the current macro-economic uncertainty, all our businesses are well positioned to drive the success of Ascential now and in the long term, as we continue to invest to extend our market leadership and maximise our future profitable growth. Our ability to execute our strategy, combined with structural growth in our end markets and the success of our Cannes Lions and Money20/20 events - whose revenue exceeded 2019 levels - underpins the Board's continued confidence."
Chief Executive Officer
+44 (0)20 7516 5000
Chief Financial Officer
Investor Relations Director
FTI Consulting LLP
+44 (0)20 3727 1000
Ascential will host a presentation for analysts and investors at 10.30am on Monday 1 August 2022, at the offices of Numis, 45 Gresham St, London, EC2V 7BF.
This presentation will be webcast on www.ascential.comand a recording will also be available on-demand from our website in due course.
Ascential delivers specialist information, analytics and eCommerce optimisation platforms to the world's leading consumer brands and their ecosystems. Our world-class businesses improve performance and solve problems for our customers by delivering immediately actionable information combined with visionary longer-term thinking across Digital Commerce, Product Design, Marketing and Retail & Financial Services.
With more than 3,000 employees across five continents, we combine local expertise with a global footprint for clients in over 120 countries. Ascential is listed on the London Stock Exchange.
Certain statements in this announcement constitute, or may be deemed to constitute, forward-looking statements, projections and information (including beliefs or opinions) with respect to the Company and its subsidiary undertakings ("the Group"). An investor can identify these statements by the fact that they do not relate strictly to historical or current facts. They include, without limitation, statements regarding the Group's future expectations, operations, financial performance, financial condition and business. Such forward looking statements are based on current expectations and are subject to a number of risks, uncertainties and assumptions that may cause actual results to differ materially from any expected future results in forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include, among other factors, changing economic, financial, business or other market conditions. These and other factors could adversely affect the outcome and financial effects of the plans and events described in this announcement.
Other than in accordance with its legal or regulatory obligations (including under the Market Abuse Regulation, the UK Listing Rules, and the Disclosure and Transparency Rules of the Financial Conduct Authority) no undertaking is given by the Group to update any forward-looking statements contained in this announcement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. Accordingly, no assurance can be given that any particular expectation will be met and investors are cautioned not to place undue reliance on the forward- looking statements.
This announcement has been prepared for the Group as a whole and therefore gives greater emphasis to those matters which are significant to the Group when viewed as a whole.
Any forward-looking statements made by or on behalf of the Group speak only as of the date they are made and are based upon the knowledge and information available to the Directors on the date of this announcement.
Financial highlights - continuing operations
Intelligence & Events:
Retail & Financial Services
Intelligence & Events:
Retail & Financial Services
Adjusted operating profit2
Loss before tax
Adjusted diluted earnings per share (pence)2
Adjusted cash generated from operations2
Operating cash flow conversion2 (%)
Leverage ratio2 (x)
Restated to reflect discontinuance of MediaLink and the 2021 IFRIC interpretation of IAS38.
Refer to the glossary of Alternative Performance Measures below.
The strong performance of all segments and, particularly, the rebound of our two major events, Cannes Lions and Money20/20, has allowed for accelerated investment in the capabilities and footprint of the fast-growing Digital Commerce segment.
The Digital Commerce segment grew revenue by 19% in H1 (on a proforma basis*) driven by a strong 23% growth in the Execution products. This continued strong growth is particularly notable given the more suppressed performance levels of the marketplaces themselves. With around 50% of its revenue variable and linked to brands' trading patterns, the outperformance we have driven for our own customers is clear. As previously indicated, we expect the growth rate of this segment to be weighted towards the second half of the year. This is due to several factors: the strong comparative trading on marketplaces in H1 last year as the pandemic lockdowns resumed, amplified by the move of Amazon Prime Day from H1 to H2, and the impact in China of the Shanghai lockdowns in H1 which are now easing. In the Measurement & Benchmarking products we are focusing on future profitability by curtailing the collection of information of retailer sites outside of the top global marketplaces for the Edge Digital Shelf product and we have incurred a one-off,non-cash, impairment charge for intangibles of £31.4m. H1 margins of the Digital Commerce segment were suppressed as we invested ahead of revenue growth in delivery capacity, product development and sales and marketing as well as incurred additional bad debt charges.
The Product Design segment delivered revenue growth of 14% and profit growth of 17% in H1, through a combination of its continuing strong growth in subscriptions, particularly in non-fashion products, including record levels of customer retention and also through the success of the specialist Mindset advisory product. The fashion product returned to growth in the half.
The Marketing segment delivered revenue growth of 88% and profit growth of 70% in H1, with Lions achieving revenue in excess of the levels recorded pre-pandemic, in 2019. The physical return of Cannes Lions is supported by continuing strong double-digit subscription growth from the WARC business where we continue to innovate with new products addressing newer markets.
The Retail & Financial Services segment delivered revenue growth of 74% in H1 and, after a Covid impacted comparable period, returned to profit. The European edition of Money20/20 more than doubled its revenue compared to 2021 and grew by 30% on the pre-pandemic 2019 level.
We have continued our investment in Hudson MX. Hudson is an advertising software business providing media buying and accounting solutions through a cloud-based SaaS platform. It made good operational progress in the half.
Progress against our 2022 Priorities
1. Continuing our strong growth and expanding our global leadership position in Digital Commerce.
Revenue growth of 19% in H1 (on a proforma* basis) represents continued strong progress towards our medium- term targets, while the acquisitions of Sellics and Intrepid further expand our leading market position.
*Including the like-for-like performance of the businesses acquired in the past 12 months such as Sellics and Intrepid, and adjusted for the discontinuation of elements of our Edge Digital Shelf business and of the non-advertising business of Sellics. Refer to the Alternative Performance Measures for a full definition.
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