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As statewide growth underlines its 2020 results, Catena Media supports the acceleration of its US publisher strategy to alleviate ongoing European market headwinds.
When Catena announced its results for the three months ended December 2020, it posted operating revenues of EUR 26,6 million, a rise of 0.3 percent compared to Q4 2019.
In the meantime, the company also announced a rise in EBITDA of 9 percent to EUR 12.3 million, which corresponds to an adjusted margin of 46 percent compared to the fourth quarter of the previous year.
This rise, Catena Media explained, was largely driven by the revival of the sports sector in the latter phases of the year as well as the increase in the number of newly deposited customers (NDCs). NDCs increased from 113,283 to 124,959 for Q4 2020, marking a 10 percent rise.
The growth of the affiliate in Q4 2020 was also boosted by developments in the US industry, with Catena Media celebrating ‘all-time high’ revenues during the period, including a 31 percent share of total revenues. This rise was motivated in part by the opening of the Michigan and Virginia states at the end of the month.
US iGaming success
The company described its presence in the US iGaming industry as ‘having been a success story throughout the year,’ reporting an increase in the share of this company from 18 percent in 2019 to 30 percent in 2020, with a growth of 43 percent in Q4.
In order to retain its ‘top ranked position’ and make a ‘strong start in January 2021’ with a year-on-year revenue increase of 56 percent, Catena intends to sustain its high investment in the post-PASPA market.
Japanese activities also added to global sales, with a rise in this sector of 38 percent, although an increase in the AskGamblers brand of 23 percent was also cited as a justification for international success.
Göran Blomberg, Acting CEO, commenting on the success of Catena Media, said: “The Group has shown resilience this year in facing the challenges of the ongoing pandemic. The Sports segment has been most negatively affected due to cancelled events, while other parts of our business were impacted positively, as people spent more time at home.
“We had a soft start to Q4 in October and November, but ended the year with strong momentum that carried on into 2021 – and we are now heading well above double-digit growth.”
The company clarified that both sports and casino’s ‘pre-regulatory tolerance period’ in the German market, as well as the strong ‘headwinds in Germany’ had an effect on trading, with Catena Media predicted to be ‘continuously negatively impacted by this in the first half of 2021.’ In the German market, the company’s sports sales halved during Q4.
Casino activities accounted for 60 percent of overall sales, amounting to EUR 16,0 million and an adjusted EBITDA of EUR 9,3 million for Q4, with respect to individual sectors. The segment generated 66 percent of total revenues for the entire trading year, amounting to EUR 69.6 million and an adjusted EBITDA of EUR 42.8 million.
Sports, meanwhile, contributed 35 percent of total sales to EUR 9.3 million, with an EBITDA of EUR 2.5 million, reflecting a margin of 27 percent.
Although significantly lower than casino operations, the Sports segment still generated substantial revenues of EUR 30,6 million for the entire trading year, representing 29 percent of total sales and contributing EUR 7,9 million to annual EBITDA, a 26 percent margin.
Absence of sporting events
Catena reported that as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the lower contribution made by the sports industry can be due to the absence of many live sporting events in 2020, with the company predicting that up to 20 percent of tournaments have been postponed or cancelled globally.
Looking at the full-year performance of the organisation in 2020, operating revenue amounted to EUR 106 million, up 3 percent from EUR 102,8 million in Q4 2019.
NDCs rose by 2 percent for the year to 443,524, while organic search revenue amounted to EUR 95.9 million, up 9 percent from EUR 88.3 million in 2019.
“Even though COVID-19 has impacted our Sports business negatively, business was back to normal by the end of the year,” Blomberg added.
“Catena Media has a very strong market position and good momentum in most business areas. The transformation programme within our legacy business will increase efficiency and enable future revenue growth. After a very good start to 2021, I have every reason to believe in positive developments for the entire year.”
Daly’s appointment could strengthen US growth
Looking ahead to the remainder of 2021, Catena Media announced that as the new CEO of the group, Michael Daly will take the helm, an appointment that the affiliate believes will further strengthen its growth in the US market and beyond.
Blomberg, welcoming Daly as the new CEO, concluded: “Last but not least, it is with great pleasure that I welcome our new CEO Michael Daly, who has built our US entity into a fast-growing and profitable business in a very successful way.
“Michael assumes his position on 1 March, and I am confident that with him we have the right person in command to move Catena Media into the next phase of growth and profitability.”