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North America growth helps Catena return to net profit in 2022

| By Robert Fletcher
Affiliate giant Catena Media was able to return a net profit during its 2022 financial year following a 24% year-on-year increase in revenue from North American operations.
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Catena was able to launch in a number of US states during 2022 following the legalisation of online betting in key markets such as New York, Louisiana, Ontario, Kansas and Maryland.

This tied in with the group’s new strategic focus on high-growth and regulated markets in North America, which ultimately led to the sale of the AskGamblers brand to Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) in January this year.

While other areas of the business experienced a decline in revenue as a result of the switch, Catena’s North American operations blossomed and drove year-on-year growth in revenue and allowed a return to net profit.

“Fully exploiting the high-margin opportunities on offer in this market will be our core operational focus going forward,” Catena chief executive Michael Daly said. “The shift towards regulation in online sports betting and casino continues to gain momentum globally – and nowhere more so than in North America, where five new states and provinces legalised online sports betting in 2022, while Ontario also opened for online casino.

“We believe regulated markets provide a more protectable and predictable environment for operators and for affiliates like Catena Media.

“As a remote-first, global organisation we possess the ability to invest flexibly into newly regulated markets in different regions once they can offer stable and foreseeable operating frameworks for affiliate marketing.”

Fourth quarter

Looking at Catena’s results and beginning with the fourth quarter, revenue from continuing operations in the final three months of 2022 amounted to €27.4m (£24.1m/$29.1), up 31% year-on-year.

Breaking this down, search revenue accounted for €27.3m of all revenue, up 16%, though paid revenue dropped 37% to €152,000. Cost per acquisition drew 74% of all revenue, with revenue share at 22% and fixed revenue at 4%.

Sports betting activity resulted in €14.2m in revenue during Q4, with casino revenue at €13.2m. In terms of geographical performance, North America revenue was 31% higher at €21.5m, while rest of world revenue dipped 20% to €5.9m as a result of the strategy change.

Turning to costs, operating expenses increased 57% to €25.9m, but net financial income stood at €362,000. This meant a pre-tax profit of €1.9m, down 65% on the previous year.

Catena received €1.4m in tax benefits, leaving a net profit of €3.2m, a year-on-year drop of 30.4%, though adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) was 14% higher at €12.3m. 

However, when also including an €11.4m loss from discontinued operations and €1.1m in interest payable on hybrid capital securities, it left a total comprehensive loss of €9.2m, compared to a €4.5m profit in 2021.

Full year

Turning to the full year, revenue increased 8% year-on-year to €110.1m, This comprised €109.4m in search revenue, up 8%, and €717,000 in paid revenue, down 42%.

Sports betting activity drew €55.9m in revenue during the year, while casino revenue hit €54.2m. North American revenue was 24% higher at €84.5m, while rest of world revenue slipped 27% to €25.6m.

Operating costs were reduced by 23.5% to €81.7m while net financial expenses amounted to €2.2m, leaving a pre-tax profit of €26.2m, compared to a €12.8m net loss in 2021. 

After paying €604,000 in tax, this resulted in a net profit of €25.6m, compared to a €14.2m net loss in the previous year, though adjusted EBITDA fell 16% to €50.1m.

Catena also noted an €18.1m net loss from discontinued operations and €4.3m worth of interest payable on hybrid capital securities, which left a total comprehensive profit of €2.3m, in contrast to the €12.7m loss posted in 2021.

“I would like to express my appreciation for the efforts of all our employees throughout 2022,” Daly said. “Their ability to remain focused on the business despite the sometimes significant distraction of organisational change impressed me greatly and I warmly thank each and every one for their valuable contributions.”

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