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Sanoma’s Full-Year 2020 Result: Strong operational EBIT margin in an exceptional year – net sales grew through acquisitions

Sanoma Oyj
·11-min read

Sanoma Corporation, Stock Exchange Release, 10 February 2021 at 8:30 EET


Sanoma’s Full-Year 2020 Result: Strong operational EBIT margin in an exceptional year – net sales grew through acquisitions


This release is a summary of Sanoma’s Full-Year 2020 Result. The complete report is attached to this release and is also available at sanoma.com.

Q4 2020

  • The Group’s net sales grew to EUR 227 million (2019: 205). Net sales of both Learning and Media Finland grew as a result of acquisitions. The Group’s comparable net sales development was 1% (2019: -1%).

  • Operational EBIT excl. PPA declined to EUR -2 million (2019: 3). Earnings improved in Media Finland and declined in Learning as margin impact of the faster than expected shift from renting to selling books was recognized during the quarter.

  • EBIT was EUR -23 million (2019: -10). Items affecting comparability (IACs) totalled EUR -16 million (2019: -8) and consisted largely of transaction and integration costs related to recent acquisitions. PPA amortisations were EUR 6 million (2019: 5).

  • Operational EPS was EUR -0.06 (2019: -0.02) and EUR -0.07 (2019: 0.07) including discontinued operations.

  • EPS was EUR -0.14 (2019: -0.06) and EUR -0.16 (2019: -0.63) including discontinued operations.

  • On 31 December, Sanoma completed the acquisition of Santillana Spain, which was announced on 19 October.

  • On 8 December, Sanoma updated its long-term financial targets for profitability of Learning to ‘above 23%’ (operational EBIT margin excl. PPA) and leverage of the Group to ‘below 3.0’ (net debt / adj. EBITDA).

  • On 3 December, Sanoma announced that it had signed a EUR 200 million term loan, which was used as part of the acquisition finance of Santillana Spain.


FY 2020

  • The Group’s net sales grew to EUR 1,062 million (2019: 913). Net sales grew in Learning as a result of acquisitions, in particular Iddink, and 5% comparable net sales growth. In Media Finland, the positive net sales contribution of the acquisition of regional news media business was offset by the adverse impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The Group’s comparable net sales development was -4% (2019: -1%).

  • Operational EBIT excl. PPA grew to EUR 157 million (2019: 138), corresponding to a margin of 14.7% (2019: 15.1%). Earnings improved in Learning as a result of both acquisitions and comparable net sales growth and were stable in Media Finland even with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

  • EBIT was EUR 270 million (2019: 105). IACs totalled EUR 136 million (2019: -23) and included a capital gain of EUR 165 million related to the divestment of Oikotie. PPA amortisations were EUR 22 million (2019: 11).

  • Operational EPS was EUR 0.58 (2019: 0.50) and EUR 0.67 (2019: 0.80) including discontinued operations.

  • EPS was EUR 1.46 (2019: 0.39) and EUR 1.51 (2019: 0.07) including discontinued operations.

  • Free cash flow declined to EUR 95 million (2019: 131) partially due to the negative free cash flow of Media Netherlands divested in April.

  • Net debt/Adj. EBITDA was stable at 2.6 (2019: 2.7).

  • On 16 July, Sanoma announced and completed the divestment of Oikotie to Schibsted.

  • On 30 April, Sanoma completed the acquisition of Alma Media’s regional news media business in Finland. The acquisition was announced on 11 February 2020.

  • On 20 April, Sanoma completed the divestment of Sanoma Media Netherlands to DPG Media.

  • The Board proposes a dividend of EUR 0.52 per share to be paid for the year 2020 in two instalments, EUR 0.26 on 22 April and EUR 0.26 in November (estimated).


Outlook for 2021

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%).

The midpoints of the outlook ranges are based on the assumption that the advertising market will be relatively stable compared to the previous year and that there are no major restrictions related to the events business in Finland. In addition, it is assumed that the learning business will not be significantly impacted by prolonged school closures in its main operating countries.


President and CEO Susan Duinhoven:

”Sanoma’s performance was strong in the exceptional year of 2020. Our net sales grew driven by acquisitions, and our operational EBIT excl. PPA improved with margin being very close to the previous year’s level. Despite the exceptional circumstances throughout the whole year, we finalised four major transformational M&A transactions: the acquisitions of Santillana Spain and the regional news media business in Finland and the divestments of Sanoma Media Netherlands and the online classifieds business Oikotie in Finland. With this transformational year behind us, the learning business will contribute close to 70% of the Group’s operational earnings going forward. The Group now consists of two focused and leading businesses in their own fields: a growing European K12 learning business and a leading cross-media business in Finland.

The full year net sales and earnings of Learning grew significantly, driven by acquisitions completed in 2019, in particular Iddink. In addition, we saw strong comparable growth of 5% driven by the curriculum renewals in Poland and in the Netherlands. As the share of the learning business in Sanoma’s total portfolio grows it becomes more determinant of the Group’s overall profitability, including the typical annual seasonality with loss-making first and fourth quarters. The lower margin businesses of Iddink and itslearning were part of Learning for the first full year and had an adverse impact on its operational EBIT margin. In addition, we saw the desired transformation from rented books to annually sold books in all of Iddink’s operating countries gathering speed. The annual margin of sold books is lower as all costs are booked at one go, whereas the costs of rented books are capitalised and depreciated over a longer period of time – the short-term impact of this was visible in Learning’s fourth quarter result.

At the end of December 2020, we completed the acquisition of Santillana Spain, the leading K12 learning material provider in Spain. We are very much looking forward to integrating the business together with the experienced and committed management team. In 2021, the Spanish learning material market is expected to decline ahead of the next curriculum renewal to be implemented in 2022–2023, which is expected to accelerate market growth significantly. In addition, the coronavirus pandemic impacted the Spanish learning market in 2020 and led to slightly lower sales. This trend might continue depending on the prolongation of lockdowns and school closures.

I am particularly proud of how our whole team in Media Finland performed during this exceptional year. Our subscription sales continued to grow driven by the daily newspaper Helsingin Sanomat and our video-on-demand service Ruutu+. At the end of April, we finalised the acquisition of Alma Media’s regional news media business, which supports the longer-term growth of our subscription base. On the other hand, our advertising and events businesses were severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic: no events were held during the year, whereas the advertising sales decreased strongly in April‒June, but recovered surprisingly well in the second half of the year. Media Finland’s operational EBIT excl. PPA and the corresponding margin were very close to the previous year’s levels, which is truly a great achievement in a year like this. Uncertainty and limited visibility related to the advertising markets and the events business are expected to continue into 2021.

In December 2020, we increased the long-term financial targets for Learning’s profitability to an ambitious level of ‘above 23%’ and the Group’s leverage to ‘below 3.0’. With the new leverage target, we have EUR 300‑400 million headroom for further M&A, which we aim to use mainly to expand our European K12 learning business. The Group’s dividend policy remains the same, and the Board proposes to the AGM a dividend of EUR 0.52 per share. In 2021, we continue to work towards our strategic goal to further growing the learning business and strengthening our media business in its core areas: news & feature, entertainment and B2B marketing solutions. We will also focus on solid integration of both Santillana Spain and the regional news media business. Our outlook for the year is good, while the uncertainties related to the continuing coronavirus pandemic remain.

Sustainability is in the DNA of Sanoma. Our learning and media businesses have a positive impact on the lives of millions of people every day and our environmental footprint is small. We will further focus on our positive role in society through our updated Sustainability Programme, which highlights six themes: Inclusive learning, Sustainable media, Trustworthy data, Vital environment, Valued people, and Responsible business practices. We will provide more information on our 2020 sustainability performance and our targets for the coming years in March 2021.”


Key indicators for continuing operations

EUR million

Q4 2020

Q4 2019

Change

FY 2020

FY 2019

Change

Net sales

227.3

205.4

11%

1,061.7

912.6

16%

Operational EBITDA 1)

43.4

44.8

-3%

309.9

276.8

12%

Margin 1)

19.1%

21.8%

29.2%

30.3%

Operational EBIT excl. PPA 2)

-1.5

2.7

-154%

156.5

137.6

14%

Margin 2)

-0.6%

1.3%

14.7%

15.1%

EBIT

-22.7

-9.5

-139%

270.1

104.5

158%

Result for the period

-23.5

-9.7

-143%

237.8

64.8

267%

Operational EPS, EUR 1)

-0.06

-0.02

-169%

0.58

0.50

17%

EPS, EUR

-0.14

-0.06

-129%

1.46

0.39

276%

Average number of employees (FTE)

4,255

3,551

20%

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

4,806

3,937

22%


Key indicators incl. continuing and discontinued operations 3)

EUR million

Q4 2020

Q4 2019

Change

FY 2020

FY 2019

Change

Result for the period 3)

-26.9

-103.2

74%

247.1

13.3

1,755%

Free cash flow 3)

30.4

75.0

-59%

94.8

131.3

-28%

Equity ratio 3),4)

37.4%

30.5%

Net debt 3)

660.7

794.7

-17%

Net debt / Adj. EBITDA 3)

2.6

2.7

-4%

Operational EPS, EUR 1), 3)

-0.07

0.07

-192%

0.67

0.80

-17%

EPS, EUR 3)

-0.16

-0.63

75%

1.51

0.07

2,039%

Free cash flow per share, EUR 3)

0.19

0.46

-60%

0.58

0.81

-28%

Dividend per share, EUR 5)

0.52

0.50

2%

1) Excluding IACs

2) Excluding IACs and purchase price allocation amortisations (PPAs)

3) In 2020 and 2019, discontinued operations include Sanoma Media Netherlands and certain Learning operations that are under strategic review. In 2020, result of discontinued operations includes a capital loss of EUR 2 million (2019: 105) related to the divestment costs of Media Netherlands. More information on discontinued operations’ financial performance is available on p. 38.

4) Advances received included in the formula of equity ratio were EUR 152.3 million in 2020 (2019: 188.8).

5) 2020 is a proposal of the Board of Directors


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/2020-q4-results .

To ask questions by phone during the live webcast, please join in 5–10 minutes prior to the start 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 88635471#

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 CSR, 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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