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Tjärnström eyes M&A as Kindred’s Q1 revenue grows to €352.6m

| By Daniel O'Boyle
Kindred's revenue for the first quarter of 2021 was up 41.2% year-on-year to €352.6m (£306.5m/$425.7m), as chief executive Henrik Tjärnström hinted that the business may pursue further acquisitions in the near future.
Kindred Group CEO Henrik Tjärnström

Tjärnström (pictured above) said the increase in revenue represented “phenomenal growth” for a mature operator.

Casino, poker and gaming made up the majority of Kindred’s revenue, at €192.9m, up 52.1% year-on-year.

Of this total, most of the revenue, at €126.7m came from Western Europe, with the Nordics bringing in €39.7m, down 7.0%, Central, Eastern and Southern Europe €18.0m and the rest of the world – including the US – €8.5m, more than double Q1 of 2020.

Kindred said the decline in Nordic casino revenue was related to the SEK5,000 deposit cap implemented in Sweden in July 2020, which led to average revenue per user declining.

Breaking down this casino and gaming revenue further, €175.9m came from casino games, €9.2m from poker and €7.8m from other games.

The remaining €159.7m in revenue came from sports betting, up 30.2% on stakes of €1.71bn, up 49.3%. Kindred made €105.8m from pre-game bets and €79.1m from live bets, with €25.2m then deducted for bonuses.

Betting revenue from all regions increased, though the comparative quarter saw the suspension of almost all global sport in its final weeks.

Like in casino, Western Europe made up most of the sports betting revenue, with €114.2m. The Nordics brought in €28.1m, enough to offset the casino decline, the rest of Europe €11.0m and revenue from the rest of the world grew 68.3% to €6.4m.

While Kindred did not break down the exact amount of revenue that came from the US, it said US revenue grew 185% year-on-year, with growth in most states in line with market growth, but with slower increases in New Jersey.

Tjärnström said he believed the growth in revenue could continue as Kindred reached a record high in active customers in the quarter.

“We ended 2020 with a new all-time high in active customers and I’m pleased to see this trajectory continuing into the first quarter of 2021 with a new active customer record of over 1.8m,” he said.

“It’s particularly encouraging as we look forward to an exciting year of sport ahead.”

Kindred paid €72.9m in betting duties, up 33.7%, €15.0m in revenue share to affiliates, up 15.4%, and €54.4m in other costs of sales for a gross profit of €210.3m, 49.8% more than in Q1 of 2020.

Other marketing costs were up 12.5% to €58.9m, while administrative expenses came to €56.7m, with just over half of this cost being made up of salaries.

This left an underlying profit, before items affecting comparability, of €94.7m, just short of five times Q1 of 2020’s underlying profit.

After accounting for other operating costs – mostly related to currency exchange – Kindred’s profit from operations was €86.7m, almost 12 times the operating profit it made a year prior. After financial costs, Kindred’s pre-tax profit was €85.3m, compared to €2.4m in 2020.

Kindred paid €12.7m in tax, resulting in a final profit of €72.6m, after a profit of €1.0m in the first quarter of 2020.

Looking ahead, Tjärnström said that mergers and acquisitions may be on the horizon for Kindred. 

“M&A has been an important part of our growth strategy over the years,” he said. “That’s been an important strategy and will remain an important strategy. It’s more of a question of when than if,” he explained.

“We are confident in our strong cash position and our place in the financial markets that we can do a deal if we want to or need to.

“Consolidation in the sector has been ongoing for 20 years plus and it’s been accelerating for a number of years. Scale is important, of course our growth rate has been excellent but if we can add strategic acquisitions on top of our growth rate that would be even better.”

The Kindred chief added that the business was “open-minded.” as to whether to target a global business or one that specialises in a local market.

In addition, he said the operator hoped to launch the Unibet brand in Iowa either this quarter or next, now that in-person registration is no longer a requirement. In Illinois, meanwhile, he said Unibet may launch in early 2022 when a similar requirement in that state comes to an end.

Yesterday, Kindred reported a quarter-on-quarter decline in the share of revenue it generated from customers it classed as “high-risk” to 3.9%. This corresponds to roughly €13.8m.

The decline in problem gambling revenue share comes after Kindred in February announced its ‘Journey Towards Zero’ strategy, through which the operator is aiming for a 0% revenue share from harmful gambling by the year 2023.

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