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Casino and US growth balance Catena’s European and sports headwinds in 2020

| By Daniel O'Boyle
Affiliate group Catena media saw revenue grow 3.1% to €106.0m (£91.1m/$128.8m), as the impact of sports suspensions and declines in many European markets were balanced out by growth in igaming and new markets such as the US.

Organic search brought in most of Catena’s revenue, at €95.9m, up 8.6%.

Breaking this organic search figure down further, €68.2m came from casino, €23.5m sports and €4.2m financial services.

Paid search revenue declined by 29.0% to €8.5m, and mostly came from sports betting, while subscription revenue was down 39.5% to €1.6m.

Across all channels, casino revenue came to €69.6m, sports €30.6m and financial services €5.8m.

Acting chief executive Göran Blomberg said declines in Catena’s sports segment with events suspended were outweighed by growth in casino. He added that much of Catena’s growth came from the US and Japan, while the affiliate’s flagship AskGamblers brand also experienced 23% growth.

However, results in Europe were less positive, including what Blomberg called “considerable headwinds” in Germany as the country introduced a new transition period for online casino.

The affiliate’s operating costs, meanwhile, declined by 38.8% to €67.5m. This drop in expenses was almost entirely due to the fact that in 2019, Catena incurred a €32.1m expense for the impairment of intangible assets

Revenue share arrangements made up 44% of Catena’s revenue, while cost-per-acquisition was 40%, fixed fees 14% and subscriptions 2%.

Catena paid €10.1m in direct costs related to revenue, down 25.9% while staff costs were up 2.4% to €23.6m, depreciation and amortisation costs declined 18.5% to €11.6m and other operating expenses were down 11.3% to €22.8m.

This resulted in an operating profit of €38.5m, compared to a €5.7m operating loss in 2019.

After paying €7.4m in interest costs and €13.2m in losses on businesses in which Catena holds equity. The business paid an additional €3.1m in other financial income.

This resulted in a €14.8m pre-tax profit, compared to a €10.4m pre-tax loss the year prior.

After paying €2.3m in taxes, Catena made a €12.5m profit, after having made a €10.5m loss in 2019.

Looking just at the fourth quarter of the year, Catena made €26.6m in revenue, of which €23.7m came from organic search, €375,000 subscriptions and €2.6m paid search.

By gaming vertical, €16.0m of Catena’s revenue came from casino games, €9.3m sports and €11.4m financial services.

The affiliate’s operating expenses totalled €16.6m, down 69.2%, again due to the €32.1m impairment cost from 2019.

Direct costs of revenue made up €3.0m of these costs, personnel expenses €5.0m, depreciation and amortisation €2.4m and other operating expenses €6.8m.

This left a €10.0m operating profit, compared to a €27.3m operating loss in 2019. 

After financial costs and taxes, Catena’s final profit was €7.7m, after having made a loss of €31.1m in 2019.

Blomberg added that the business experienced a very strong January, thanks in part to the opening of the Michigan and Virginia markets in the US. Revenue was up 58% year-on-year for the month.

“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,” Blomberg said. “After a very good start to 2021, I have every reason to believe in positive developments for the entire year.”

Last month, Catena announced that Michael Daly, currently head of its US business, would take over as chief executive on 1 March. Blomberg will then resume his position as chairman of the board.

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