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Sanoma Corporation, Interim Report January–March 2021: Good start to the year driven by acquisitions and organic growth

Sanoma Oyj
·10-min read

Sanoma Corporation, Stock Exchange Release, 30 April 2021 at 8:30 EET


Sanoma Corporation, Interim Report January–March 2021: Good start to the year driven by acquisitions and organic growth

This release is a summary of Sanoma’s Interim Report January–March 2021. The complete report is attached to this release and is also available at sanoma.com/en/investors.

Q1 2021

  • The Group’s net sales grew to EUR 210 million (2020: 188) driven mainly by acquisitions both in Learning and Media Finland. The Group’s comparable net sales growth was 3% (2020: 2%).

  • Operational EBIT excl. PPA declined to EUR -10 million (2020: -8). Earnings improved in Media Finland, and declined in Learning, which is typical for a growing learning company with seasonal losses of the first quarter increasing in-line with net sales.

  • EBIT was EUR -24 million (2020: -17). Items affecting comparability (IACs) totalled EUR -5 million (2020: -4) and mainly consisted of integration costs related to recent acquisitions. Purchase price allocation adjustments and amortisations (PPAs) increased to EUR 9 million (2020: 5) as a result of recent acquisitions.

  • Operational EPS was EUR -0.12 (2020: -0.06) and EUR -0.12 (2020: 0.01) including discontinued operations.

  • EPS was EUR -0.15 (2020: -0.07) and EUR -0.15 (2020: -0.02) including discontinued operations.

  • As typical for the first quarter, free cash flow was negative and amounted to EUR -48 million (2020: -60). The negative free cash flow of the divested Media Netherlands was included in the Group’s free cash flow still in the comparison period, but not anymore in the reporting period.

  • Net debt/Adj. EBITDA was stable at 2.8 (2020: 3.0) being in-line with the long-term target level of ‘below 3.0’.

  • On 29 April, Sanoma announced it had received a decision from the Finnish Tax Adjustment Board that they had accepted a claim made by the Finnish Tax Ombudsman related to tax audits at Sanoma Media Finland. Based on the decision received, Sanoma is required to pay approx. EUR 20 million of VAT excl. potential penalties or interests. Sanoma considers the claims fully unjustified and will appeal the decision.

  • On 13 April, the Annual General Meeting decided that a dividend of EUR 0.52 shall be paid for 2020 in two equal instalments. The first instalment was paid on 22 April and the second instalment will be paid in November (estimated timing).

  • On 11 March, Sanoma issued a EUR 200 million bond, which was used to repay a EUR 200 million bridge loan drawn in connection with the Santillana acquisition.

  • On 8 March, Sanoma launched an updated Sustainability Strategy focusing on six themes, each having their own targets and KPIs.

Outlook for 2021 (unchanged)

In 2021, Sanoma expects that the Group’s reported net sales will be EUR 1.2‒1.3 billion (2020: 1.1). The Group’s operational EBIT margin excluding PPA is expected to be 14%–16% (2020: 14.7%).

Regarding the operating environment and its implications for the business Sanoma expects that:

  • Organising of live events will be impacted by restrictions and dependent on the vaccination rate and opening of the society in Finland, and final decisions will be made on an event-by-event basis. The profitability of the events business will be significantly lower than in the previous year.

  • The advertising demand will be weighted towards the second half of the year.

  • The learning business will not be significantly impacted by prolonged school closures in its main operating countries.

President and CEO Susan Duinhoven:

”We had a good start to the year. Net sales grew driven by acquisitions and solid underlying development both in Learning and Media Finland. In Learning, the first quarter is always seasonally small in net sales, and loss-making. The larger our learning business becomes, the stronger this seasonality and losses in the first and fourth quarters will also become. With the acquisition of Santillana, the annual seasonality has become even stronger in Learning, as in Spain the business is more focused on the third quarter than in our other operating countries. We have now worked together with Santillana for the first four months. The integration has proceeded well and according to our plans. The mutual learning curve is high, despite the fact that the majority of the integration projects are conducted remotely. The team in Spain is already now preparing for the upcoming education renewal in 2022-2023. Across our learning business, we have continued to support remote learning and teaching with our digital tools and do not expect any major impact on the business due to the pandemic, although there may be some shift towards the third quarter in some of our largest markets.

Media Finland continued its strong performance also in the first quarter. Solid subscription sales growth continued in the daily newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, where number of subscriptions grew even by 6% y-o-y, and the VOD service Ruutu+. Helsingin Sanomat business section, HS Visio, was successfully launched in the beginning of March and we are very happy to see how enthusiastically it has been received by the readers. Development of our B2B advertising sales was also solid against a relatively strong comparison of the first months of 2020, just before the coronavirus pandemic started. Visibility into the B2B demand is currently very low, and we expect quite cautious development in the first half of the year and more weight on the second half. A positive overall performance is visible also in the regional news media business, where the integration has been successful, and we now start to see the synergy benefits in earnings. When it comes to the events business, the sentiment and optimism for this season have been anything but stable during the spring time with slowness of the vaccination progress especially among younger age groups. During the summer season 2021, organising of live events will depend on the opening of the society in Finland and we will make final go/no-go decisions on an event-by-event basis. Uncertainty related to the events business was evident already in February when we gave our Outlook for this year, and therefore the Outlook remains unchanged.

Highlights of the first quarter also included the launch of our updated Sustainability Strategy and a very successful issuance of a 3-year EUR 200 million bond, both in early March. Our Sustainability Strategy focuses on six themes, in which we have the highest impact: Inclusive learning, Sustainable media, Trustworthy data, Valued people, Vital environment and Responsible business practices. We have also set targets for each theme and are happy to tell more about our plans towards them in a dedicated virtual ‘Sanoma Sustainability Day’ presentation on 8 June. More information on the event is available at www.sanoma.com/en/investors. Our sustainability story also played a key role in the success of the bond issuance as we experienced high demand in particular among ESG investors.

The exceptional times with the coronavirus pandemic continue as we have now already entered the second year. At Sanoma, successful remote work continues, and thanks to the discipline and dedication of our employees we have been able to stay healthy and safe. Related to the pandemic, some cost mitigation actions continue, while we actively invest in digital development in both businesses and may experience somewhat higher warehousing, IT and hosting costs just like in the previous year. The pandemic has not changed our long-term financial targets and strategic priorities: we have a solid financial position and the ability to create a positive cash flow, and our aim is to continue to grow our K12 learning business organically and through M&A.”

Key indicators for continuing operations

EUR million

Q1 2021

Q1 2020

Change

FY 2020

Net sales

210.1

187.6

12%

1,061.7

Operational EBITDA 1)

30.7

30.8

0%

309.9

Margin 1)

14.6%

16.4%

29.2%

Operational EBIT excl. PPA 2)

-10.0

-7.8

-29%

156.5

Margin 2)

-4.8%

-4.1%

14.7%

EBIT

-23.8

-17.0

-40%

270.1

Result for the period

-24.4

-12.4

-97%

237.8

Operational EPS, EUR 1)

-0.12

-0.06

-97%

0.58

EPS, EUR

-0.15

-0.07

-99%

1.46

Average number of employees (FTE)

4,845

3,942

23%

4,255

Number of employees at the end of the period (FTE)

4,853

3,952

23%

4,806

Key indicators incl. continuing and discontinued operations 3)

EUR million

Q1 2021

Q1 2020

Change

FY 2020

Result for the period

-24.5

-3.8

-550%

247.1

Free cash flow

-48.4

-60.2

20%

94.8

Equity ratio 4)

37.9%

25.2%

37.4%

Net debt

713.4

856.3

-17%

660.7

Net debt / Adj. EBITDA

2.8

3.0

-6%

2.6

Operational EPS, EUR 1)

-0.12

0.01

-1,051%

0.67

EPS, EUR

-0.15

-0.02

-582%

1.51

Free cash flow per share, EUR

-0.30

-0.37

20%

0.58

1) Excluding IACs
2) Excluding IACs and purchase price allocation adjustments and amortisations (PPAs)
3) In 2021, discontinued operations include certain Learning operations that are under strategic review. In 2020, discontinued operations also included Sanoma Media Netherlands. More information on discontinued operations’ financial performance is available on p. 30.
4) Advances received included in the formula of equity ratio were EUR 139.7 million in Q1 2021 (2020: 170.4)


Analyst and investor conference

An analyst and investor webcast and teleconference will be held in English by the President and CEO Susan Duinhoven and CFO and COO Markus Holm at 11:00. The live webcast can be followed via https://sanoma.videosync.fi/2021-q1-results.

To ask questions by phone during the live webcast, please join in 5–10 minutes prior to the starting time by dialing one of the following numbers:

Finland: +358 9 8171 0310
Sweden: +46 8 5664 2651
United Kingdom: +44 33 3300 0804
United States: +1 631 913 1422

Confirmation code for the call is 65762936#

An on-demand replay of the webcast will be available shortly after the conference at www.sanoma.com/en/investors.

Interview opportunities for media by Teams or by phone are available after the conference. Media representatives are asked to book interviews via Communications Director Marcus Wiklund, marcus.wiklund@sanoma.com.

Additional information

Kaisa Uurasmaa, Head of Investor Relations and Sustainability, tel. +358 40 560 5601

About Sanoma

Sanoma is an innovative and agile learning and media company impacting the lives of millions every day.

Our learning products and services enable teachers to develop the talents of every child to reach their full potential. We offer printed and digital learning content as well as digital learning and teaching platforms for primary, secondary and vocational education, and want to grow our business across Europe.

Our Finnish media provide independent journalism and engaging entertainment also for generations to come. Our unique cross-media position offers the widest reach and tailored marketing solutions for our business partners.

Today, we operate in eleven European countries and employ close to 5,000 professionals. In 2020, our net sales amounted to approx. 1.1bn€ and our operational EBIT margin excl. PPA was 14.7%. Sanoma shares are listed on Nasdaq Helsinki. More information is available at www.sanoma.com.

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