A quarter of healthy gains as we invest for long-term growth

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Catena Media plc: Year-end report January – December 2021

Highlights Q4 2021

  • Operating revenue was EUR 31.9m (26.6), an increase of 20 percent.
  • Organic growth was 9 percent, or 19 percent excluding the German sports betting and casino market.
  • New depositing customers (NDCs) totalled 135,250 (124,959), an increase of 8 percent.
  • Revenue from North American sports betting and casino rose by 97 percent and accounted for 51 percent (31) of group revenue.
  • Adjusted EBITDA increased by 4 percent and totalled EUR 12.8m (12.3), corresponding to an adjusted EBITDA margin of 40 percent (46) that reflected growth investments of EUR 2.5m in North America, central technology and European casino products as well as accounting adjustments for the company’s short-term incentive programme.
  • EBITDA, including items affecting comparability of EUR 0.1m (-0.1), increased by 2 percent and totalled EUR 12.7m (12.4), equal to an EBITDA margin of 40 percent (47).
  • Earnings per share were EUR 0.08 (0.11) before dilution and EUR 0.05 (0.07) after dilution.
  • Operating cash flow increased by 52 percent to EUR 18.1m (11.9).
  • Cash and cash equivalents totalled EUR 27.7m (29.9) on 31 December.
  • Net interest-bearing liabilities (NIBL) were EUR 58.1m (57.0) on 31 December, resulting in a leverage ratio (NIBL/adjusted EBITDA) of 0.84 (1.09).
  • The company issued 2,207,357 new shares with a value of USD 12.5 million as part-payment of the i15 media assets acquisition.
  • As part of a buyback programme, the company repurchased 817,700 of its ordinary shares for EUR 4.5m between 17 November and 3 December, following a first buyback round that started in the third quarter in which 1,504,810 ordinary shares were repurchased for EUR 8.6m. As of 31 December, the company holds 2,322,510, or 3 percent, of its ordinary shares.

Full-year highlights 2021       

  • Operating revenue was EUR 136.1m (106.0), an increase of 28 percent.
  • Organic growth was 24 percent, or 37 percent excluding the German sports betting and casino market.
  • New depositing customers (NDCs) totalled 586,522 (443,524), an increase of 32 percent.
  • Revenue from North American sports betting and casino rose by 116 percent and accounted for 50 percent (30) of group revenue.
  • Adjusted EBITDA increased by 32 percent and totalled EUR 68.8m (52.0), corresponding to an adjusted EBITDA margin of 51 percent (49).
  • EBITDA, including items affecting comparability of EUR 5.3m (1.9), increased by 27 percent and totalled EUR 63.5m (50.1), equal to an EBITDA margin of 47 percent (47).
  • Earnings per share were EUR -0.10 (0.20) before dilution and EUR -0.06 (0.12) after dilution and reflected the one-off EUR 49.4m impairment charge recognised in Q3.
  • Operating profit was negatively impacted by a non-cash impairment on intangible assets of EUR 49.4 (zero). EUR 42.8m related to German sports assets acquired between 2016 and 2018 while EUR 6.6m pertained to French sports assets acquired in 2018.
  • Operating cash flow increased by 34 percent to EUR 65.8m (49.0).

Significant events after the period

  • The US states of New York and Louisiana legalised online sports betting in January 2022.
  • In January, total revenue increased by 29 percent, or 36 percent excluding the German sports betting and casino market, compared to January 2021. Revenue from North American sports betting and casino rose 64 percent, fuelled by successful launches in New York and Louisiana during the month.
  • Full-year revenue in North America in 2022 will exceed USD 100m provided current market estimates and launch timetables hold firm.

CEO Michael Daly’s comments

The final quarter of 2021 capped a memorable year for Catena Media. After an eventful nine months that brought multiple US state openings and two major acquisitions, we focused in Q4 on accelerating investment into our long-term growth plans and on preparing for future market launches in North America in 2022. We did so while recording a solid financial performance headlined by a 20 percent rise in group revenue and a 4 percent increase in adjusted EBITDA.

A variety of temporary factors impacted on the bottom line during the quarter. Revenue pressure on sports betting operators in Europe squeezed our margins there. In Japan, the easing of Covid-related restrictions caused a drop in online casino sessions as users seized the opportunity to spend more time outside home. We also resumed our investment programme for future growth as the easing of the pandemic enabled a gradual normalisation of business conditions and the consumer environment.

Investments were made across the group in personnel and technology to support growth and to further improve the foundational architecture of our brands so we are fully equipped to deliver profitable double-digit growth today and for years to come. This spending on our future long-term success will continue through 2022.

In Q4, in Italy, we noted initial positive revenue effects from a future-oriented programme to lift our products to the next level. Similar efforts, though not yet revenue-enhancing, are in progress in Germany as we transition to the new regulated market setup that took hold on 1 July 2021. Alongside this work, we are investing strongly in growth in North America, Latin America, Asia-Pacific and parts of Africa.

As the pandemic abates, these investments will enable us to preserve our position as a high-margin business moving forward. The strong cash flow from our North American operations, in particular, enables us to invest for the long term while still delivering solid earnings growth from quarter to quarter. We struck this balance adeptly in 2021 and intend to continue doing so through 2022 as our growth-focused roadmap unfolds.

Nevertheless, growth in the affiliate space is not linear. Catena Media is subject to diverse external uncertainties that are inherent to our business and that have the potential to affect income in any one quarter. These range from tighter regulation to market liberalisation – and from changes in search engine algorithms to altered consumption patterns. Our ambition is to shape our investments to mitigate some of the impact of these fluctuations over time.

During Q4, our North American business continued to thrive despite the absence of new market launches. We benefited especially from strong sports betting activity allied to NFL fixtures, though this upside was tempered by higher direct costs allied to the launch of sports betting in Arizona in September. Year-on-year performance remained buoyed by the legalisation during 2021 of online sports betting and casino gaming in Michigan and online sports betting in Virginia, Arizona and Wyoming. In each case, our approach of investing substantially in the market prior to launch paid off handsomely. We successfully deployed similar tactics in New York and Louisiana prior to the legalisation of online sports betting in both states in January 2022. New York is likely to be our largest sports market going forward.

We continue to position ourselves for the global trend towards betting and casino regulation. The strict restrictions imposed on online gaming in Germany in the last year have been a challenging experience for us and the industry as a whole. But our intention is to learn from the process so we are better positioned in countries that may regulate in the future. Our business model thrives in regulated markets, and we embrace regulation as a way to ensure a level playing field and transparency for all. Germany and the newly regulated Dutch market have experienced delays in approving operators, but we see promise once both markets support a diverse operator pool.

Elsewhere in Europe, I was pleased with our performance in Italy where, despite Covid-related challenges, we saw robust growth in Sports and positive growth in Casino as the brand transformation project began to show results. The UK continued to show healthy growth on the product side and I am excited by the development of our GG.co.uk horse racing product. Horse racing is a growing global market where we see potential to leverage our pan-continental presence.

Our global Casino brands reported a solid quarter, although performance relative to 2020 reflected the sharp decline of online casino in Germany. Casino performance in North America was solid, while in Japan we continued to see robust revenue growth despite the Covid-related dip in traffic.

In Latin America and Africa we see highly attractive growth opportunities and very strong revenue growth, albeit from a low base. We are investing aggressively in a cluster of markets, including Brazil and South Africa, as we continue to refine and develop our portfolio mix. We are well placed to be part of the growth story as these markets lift off.

Early in 2022, our affiliate sports betting offers enjoyed successful launches in New York and Louisiana. We also look forward with anticipation to the scheduled launch of sportsbook betting and casino gaming in Ontario in Canada at the start of Q2. Our extensive programme of advance investment and preparation gives us high expectations that Ontario will be among our largest North American markets in the future. If the market develops at its current expected rate, and no delays or similar unforeseen events occur in relation to scheduled market openings, we confidently expect revenue in North America to surpass USD 100m in 2022.

Presentation of Catena Media’s second quarter results

A combined audiocast and phone conference with the opportunity to ask questions will be held at 09:00 CET
today, at which CEO Michael Daly and Group CFO Peter Messner will present the report.

The presentation audiocast will be accessible via the following link:

The presentation will also be available on the company’s website:

To participate via telephone, please call any of the following numbers:
SE +46 8 519 993 83
UK: +44 333 300 9 273
US: +1 646 722 495 6


Contact details for further information:

Michael Daly, CEO

Peter Messner, Group CFO
Phone: +46 768 95 26 93, E-mail:

Investor Relations

This information is information that Catena Media plc. is obliged to make public pursuant to the EU Market Abuse Regulation. The information was submitted for publication, through the agency of the contact persons, on 23 February 2022 at 07:00 CET.

About Catena Media

Catena Media has a leading position within online lead generation. The company has about 400 employees in the US, Australia, Japan, Serbia, the UK, Sweden, Italy and Malta (HQ). The company is listed on Nasdaq Stockholm. Further information is available at www.catenamedia.com.


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