US sports betting growth drives net profit up 610.2% at XLMedia in 2021

| By Robert Fletcher
Affiliate business XLMedia reported a 610.2% year-on-year increase in net profit to $5.6m (£4.3m/€5.1m) for its 2021 financial year following a 21.4% rise in revenue.

Total revenue for the 12 months to 31 December 2021 was $66.5m, up from $54.8m in the previous financial year.

XLMedia put the revenue increase primarily down to its growth within the sports wagering market in North America, which helped to offset a decline in the online casino vertical.

Total sports betting revenue for the year reached $31.4m, an increase of 177.9% on 2020, helped by a number of strategic US sports acquisitions. These included sports gaming and sports betting business CBWG Sport at the end of 2020 and sportsbook review website Sports Betting Dime in March.

European casino revenue declined 26.8% to $23.2m as a result of what XLMedia described as “ongoing trading pressures” for this area of the business.

Personal finance revenue edged up 3.6% year-on-year to $8.7m, while other legacy revenue fell 11.4% to $3.1m.

Aside from its US-focused acquisitions, XLMedia also noted a series of key appointments in 2021, including Caroline Ackroyd as its new group chief finance officer, Nigel Leigh as chief information officer and Cédric Boireau as a non-executive director.

Shortly after the year-end, XLMedia also named Julie Markey as interim non-executive chair following the departure of Christopher Bell.

Turning to costs, operating expenses were 12.4% higher at $40.7m, reflecting costs associated with M&A activity and wider restructuring.

However, the increased revenue meant that operating profit rocketed 3,102.3% to $3.9m – albeit from a low base – while after excluding certain costs, adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose 46.7% to $17.9m.

XLMedia also noted $549,000 in finance costs, but this was offset by $306,000 in finance income and $318,000 in other income, meaning pre-tax profit reached $4.0m, up 263.6% year-on-year.

The group received $1.6m in income tax benefit, which left it with a full-year net profit of $5.6m, compared to $792,000 in the previous financial year.

“We’ve made great progress in North America during 2021 alongside delivering important organisational changes to both rationalise and ring-fence legacy areas of our business,” XLMedia chief executive Stuart Simms said.

“We set out to become a significant player in North American sports – in line with our strategy to pursue high growth, large, regulated markets – we’re now in really good shape, with strong geographical coverage and capability, ready to fully exploit this significant market opportunity.”

Interim chair Markey added: “In 2021, the group evolved its operational capabilities – upskilling and realigning our global workforce to better match strategy and generate new future growth. 

“I’m proud of our people for driving through a period of significant change including having to navigate continued restrictions relating to the Covid pandemic. The business is becoming more agile and responsive so that it can fully exploit new opportunities.”

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