Ascential report organic revenue growth of 42%

Ascential plc

Ascential plc (LON:ASCL), the specialist information, analytics and eCommerce optimisation company, this morning announced Group results in line with expectations for the six-month period to 30th June 2022.

Results highlights

●     Double-digit revenue growth in all four segments, reflecting continuing structural growth in attractive end markets boosted by a bounce-back from major events.

●     Digital Commerce delivered another period of strong revenue growth (up 15% on an Organic basis and 19% on a Proforma basis, with Execution (72% of revenue) up 19% on an Organic basis and 23% on a Proforma basis). The business continued to successfully extend and expand its addressable market with the acquisitions of Sellics (Germany, covering Amazon sellers) and Intrepid (Southeast Asia, covering Shopee and Lazada). Integration of acquisitions is fully underway.

●     Product Design continued its acceleration (revenue up 14%), with strong subscription billings driven by non-fashion products and record levels of customer retention.

●     Marketing saw significant growth (revenue up 88%), with the strong return of the Cannes Lions Festival where revenue levels exceeded 2019.  

●     Retail & Financial Services also grew very strongly (revenue up 74%), through the continued resurgence of Money20/20 Europe where revenue was 30% up on 2019.

Financial highlights

●     Group results in line with market expectations.

●     Revenue of £260.7m (H1 2021: £154.3m).

○     Reported revenue growth of £106.4m or 69% (organic: 42%, proforma: 40%)

○     Digital revenues (including awards) now over 70% of total revenue mix (based on the last twelve months to June 2022).

●     Adjusted EBITDA of £67.2m (H1 2021: £42.8m). Margin of 25.8% (H1 2021: 27.8%).

○     Reported growth of £24.4m or 57% (organic: 38%, proforma: 20%).

○     Digital Commerce Adjusted EBITDA of £1.8m (H1 2021: £10.8m) with H1 margins suppressed as we invested ahead of revenue growth in delivery capacity, product development and sales and marketing.

●     Reported operating loss of £35.1m (H1 2021: £2.4m) stated after Adjusting items of £89.7m (H1 2021: £36.2m) reflecting:

○     Amortisation of acquired intangibles (£17.5m) and share-based payments (£7.6m).

○     Non-Trading items (£33.2m) for acquisition earnouts, transaction and integration costs and the expensing of build costs for our new ERP and Salesforce systems.

○     A non-cash charge of £31.4m for the impairment of the Edge Digital Shelf intangibles with a strategic shift to refocus these foundational services solely on the leading global marketplaces to enable greater future profits.

●     Adjusted diluted EPS profit from continuing operations of 8.0p (H1 2021: 5.7p).

●     Operating cash flow conversion of 128% (H1 2021: 182%). Cash consideration paid for the acquisitions of Sellics and Intrepid and settlement of deferred consideration partly offset by strong operating cash generation, with closing net debt at £172.7m, a leverage ratio of 1.6x EBITDA (December 2021: £73.8m and 0.9x EBITDA).

Duncan Painter, Ascential plc Chief Executive Officer, commented:

“Ascential has had an excellent first half of the year, with strong growth in group revenue and profit in line with expectations.  Each of our segments delivered double digit revenue growth: all the more pleasing given the challenging macro backdrop.  We are making good progress with our mission to make Digital Commerce the number one, global real-time platform that powers eCommerce by enhancing our capabilities, expanding our partnerships with leading eCommerce marketplaces and increasing our addressable market through complementary acquisitions.

Despite the current macro-economic uncertainty, all our businesses are well positioned to drive the success of Ascential now and in the long term, as we continue to invest to extend our market leadership and maximise our future profitable growth.  Our ability to execute our strategy, combined with structural growth in our end markets and the success of our Cannes Lions and Money20/20 events – whose revenue exceeded 2019 levels – underpins the Board’s continued confidence.”

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