Catena lauds US progress as Michael Daly takes leadership charge

By | February 24, 2021

Catena Media backs the acceleration of its US publisher strategy, to mitigate ongoing European market headwinds as stateside growth underlines its 2020 performance.    

Publishing its results for the three months ended December 2020, Catena declared operating revenues of €26.6 million, an increase of 0.3% from Q4 2019.

Meanwhile, the company also reported a 9% increase in EBITDA to €12.3 million, corresponding to an adjusted margin of 46%, when compared to the fourth quarter of the previous year.

This growth, explained Catena Media, was largely driven by the resurgence of the sports sector in the latter stages of the year as well as a growth in the number of newly depositing customers (NDCs). For Q4 2020, NDCs rose from 113,283 to 124,959 – marking a 10% growth.

Developments in the US market also fuelled the affiliate’s growth in Q4 2020, with Catena Media celebrating ‘all-time high’ revenues during the quarter, including a 31% share in total revenues. This increase was partly driven by the opening of the states of Michigan and Virginia at the end of the month.

The firm described its presence within the US iGaming sector as having ‘been a success story throughout the year,’ reporting an increase in the share of this business from 18% in 2019 to 30% in 2020, with a growth of 43% in Q4.

Catena intends to maintain its high investment in the post-PASPA market in order to retain its ‘top ranked position’, and made a ‘strong start in January 2021’ with a year-on-year revenue rise of 56%.

Japanese operations also made a contribution to global revenues, with an increase of 38% recorded in this market, whilst a 23% increase in the AskGamblers brand was also cited as a reason for international success.

Commenting on Catena Media’s performance, Göran Blomberg, Acting CEO, 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 explained that the ‘pre-regulatory tolerance period’ within the German market, as well as the strong ‘headwinds in Germany for both sports and casino’ had an effect on trading,  with Catena Media expected to be ‘continuously negatively impacted by this in the first half of 2021.’ The company’s sports revenues in the German market halved during Q4.

With regards to individual sectors, Casino operations were responsible for 60% of total revenues, amounting to €16.0 million and an adjusted EBITDA of €9.3 million for Q4. For the entire trading year, the segment generated 66% of total revenues, amounting to €69.6 million and an adjusted EBITDA of €42.8 million.

Sports, meanwhile, contributed 35% of overall revenues at €9.3 million, with an EBITDA of €2.5 million, demonstrating a 27% margin. 

Although considerably less than Casino operations, the Sports segment still generated significant revenues of €30.6 million for the whole trading year, representing 29% of total revenue and contributing an annual EBITDA €7.9 million, a 26% margin.

Catena stated that the lesser contribution made by the sports sector can be attributed to the absence of many live sporting competitions throughout 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the company estimating up to 20% of tournaments were postponed or cancelled globally.

Looking at the company’s full-year performance in 2020, operating revenue amounted to €106 million, up 3% from the €102.8 million in Q4 2019.

NDCs grew by 2% to 443,524 for the year, while organic search revenue amounted to €95.9 million – up 9% from €88.3 million from the corresponding period 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.”

Looking forward to the remainder of 2021, Catena Media confirmed that Michael Daly will take the reins as the company’s new CEO – an appointment which the affiliate believes will help bolster its growth within the US market and further afield.

Welcoming Daly as the new CEO, Blomberg 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.”

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