Net profit doubles at Zeal Network in first quarter

| By Robert Fletcher
German lottery provider Zeal Network reported a 101.6% year-on-year increase in net profit for the first quarter of its 2022 financial year, following a rise in revenue and reduction in operating costs.

Revenue, including income from jackpot insurance, for the three months to 31 March 2022 was €25.1m (£21.6m/$26.4m), an increase of 11.0% from €22.6m in the same period last year.

The majority of revenue – €24.0m – was generated through Zeal’s German business, while the remaining €1.1m came from other operations, with both areas benefitting from higher billings.

Total group billings, which comprise all stakes from customers through Zeal’s offering, were up 10.9% to €181.1m due to better jackpot development and an increase in customers. 

Zeal was able to acquire 154,000 registered new customers in the quarter, slightly lower than the 156,000 last year, with acquisition costs per registered new customer up from €33.48 to €38.09.

This, Zeal said, resulted primarily from a special promotion for the Freiheit+ charity lottery, adding that the effect of this will only become apparent over time. Without this promotion, cost per acquisition would have been at a similar level as in the previous year.

Turning to costs, operating expenses were 9.8% lower at €16.5m, helped by a 20.2% cut in personnel spend as total employee headcount was reduced from 164 to 156. Marketing costs were 3.3% higher at €7.3m, but direct operating expenses were down 10.6% to €2.5m and indirect operating expenses were reduced by 15.2% to €2.6m.

Higher revenue and lower spending led to a 95.6% year-on-year increase in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), which reached €8.9m in the quarter, up from €4.6m last year.

Zeal also noted €2.1m in amortisation and depreciation expenses, a 2.9% drop on Q1 2021, which resulted in a 187.6% jump in earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) to €6.8m.

After also taking into account €158,000 in financial costs and a €43,000 loss from associates, pre-tax profit was €6.7m. Zeal paid €1.6m in income tax, meaning it ended the quarter with a net profit of €5.0m, more than double the €2.48m posted last year.

“We have made a good start to 2022 and were able to increase revenue and profitability once again; this gives us momentum to invest in further growth this year,” Zeal’s chief financial officer Jonas Mattsson said.

Zeal added that its forecast for full-year transaction volume, revenue and EBITDA remains unchanged. Depending on general conditions, revenue could reach at least €105.0m, which would be 21.0% higher than last year.

Billings are expected to amount to at least €750.0m, which would represent an increase of 14.2%, while EBITDA should reach at least €30.0m, up 8.3% year-on-year. 

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