As reported by Centaur Media:
- Reported revenues grew 22% to £18.3m, with robust revenue growth across both Xeim (up by 20% to £14.8m) and The Lawyer (up by 30% to £3.5m)
- Group adjusted EBITDA increased to £2.2m (HY 2020: £0.9m) as a result of revenue growth and margin improvements
- Flagship 4 brands driving growth and now represent two-thirds of Group sales
- Adjusted EBITDA margin grew to 12% (HY 2020: 6%) due to impact of operational gearing
- Encouraging progress towards MAP23 targets of 23% adjusted EBITDA margin and more than £45m revenues by 2023
- Interim dividend of 0.5 pence per share proposed (2020: nil pence)
- Net cash of £11.9m as at 30 June 2021 (HY 2020: £8.4m)
Following a better second half of 2020, Centaur saw a sustained recovery of revenues and EBITDA across both Xeim and The Lawyer as its brands and customers continued to adapt to the impact of the pandemic.
First-half reported revenues were up 22% to £18.3m (HY 2020: £15.0m), with combined growth of 26% from the Flagship 4 brands of Econsultancy, Influencer Intelligence, Mini MBA (all three of which are in the Xeim business unit) and The Lawyer. The higher value revenue streams of premium content, marketing services and training advisory now represent 73% of Group revenues. As detailed in the Segmental Review, after allowing for the timing of events in The Lawyer, the underlying growth in revenue is 19% year-on-year with The Lawyer showing an increase of 13%.
Adjusted EBITDA increased to £2.2m (HY 2020: £0.9m), reflecting revenue growth combined with continued and sustainable tight cost control. As a result, adjusted EBITDA margin grew to 12% (HY 2020: 6%), reflecting a good performance for the first half of the year which historically has lower revenue and EBITDA than the second half.
The improvement in EBITDA that followed the increased revenues illustrates the operational gearing inherent within Centaur’s business model. This underpins management’s belief that 23% adjusted EBITDA margins can be achieved through an increase in higher margin revenues and tight cost control over the coming years, in line with MAP23.
Centaur continues to generate positive cashflows as a result of strong cash management, increased advanced bookings and a focus on working capital, resulting in a cash balance of £11.9m (HY 2020: £8.4m). Together with access to a £10m long-term revolving credit facility, this gives us resilience and flexibility and will allow us to invest in future organic growth opportunities.
The increase in adjusted EBITDA has resulted in an adjusted operating profit of £0.5m (2020: loss of £1.1m). The Group reported loss of £0.4m is significantly reduced from last year’s loss of £13.7m which included an £11.0m impairment of goodwill in connection with the closure of MarketMakers.
Strategic and Operational Highlights
In January 2021, Centaur updated its Margin Acceleration Plan with the aim of raising adjusted EBITDA margin to 23% and increasing revenues to more than £45m by 2023, a strategy called ‘MAP23’. Since then, Centaur has focused investment and resource allocation on its Flagship 4 brands which it considers to be the key drivers of organic growth.
Over the past six months, revenues from the Flagship 4 grew by 26% to £12.1m (H1 2020: £9.6m), which now equates to two-thirds of Group sales:
- Econsultancy benefitted from continued strong demand for digital training with its blended learning proposition attracting significantly increased new business.
- Influencer Intelligence is seeing early signs of a recovery in renewal rates and new business following six months of cautious marketing investment from its core consumer-facing brand clients.
- Mini MBA continued its rapid growth, nearly doubling its revenues compared to the first half of 2020, with many of its delegates being repeat corporate customers.
- The Lawyer continued to deliver double-digit growth in the value of subscription renewals, while developing its premium offering through the launch of Signal, converting customers who previously bought individual reports to a new subscription service offering in-depth strategic insight and benchmarking of markets, clients, and competitors.
Centaur has also supported its wider portfolio of Core Brands, with Really B2B, Centaur’s award-winning demand generation agency for SMEs, returning to revenue growth.
Centaur has experienced a recovery of revenue from events which was depressed by lockdown measures last year. Event revenues rose above 2019 levels, driven primarily by new digital events. The Festival of Marketing, one of our Core Brands, hosted two new digital events, attracting a good number of delegates and sponsors. This was replicated across the Flagship 4, with The Lawyer successfully hosting 75 digital events. Of our Core Brands, Marketing Week and Really B2B, our award-winning demand generation agency for SMEs, returned to revenue growth.
Over the past six months, Centaur has continued to win large multi-brand contracts from a range of blue-chip clients, harnessing its leading position in digital marketing and e-commerce and offering a range of its products to the likes of Pepsico, Abrdn, Toyota and TikTok.
Centaur’s Board will pay an interim dividend of 0.5p per share (HY 2020: 0p). This follows the announcement at Centaur’s preliminary results in March 2021, where the Board recommended the resumption of its normal dividend policy, which aims to distribute 40% of adjusted earnings after taxation, subject to a minimum aggregate total of 1p per share per year.
Centaur has met the Board’s expectations for revenue, adjusted EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA margin growth over the course of the first half of 2021. It is trading in line with the Board’s expectations for the second half of the year which historically has a greater weighting of revenues and profits than the first half and the Board remains confident in the successful delivery of Centaur’s MAP23 revenue and EBITDA margin objectives.
Swag Mukerji, Chief Executive Officer, commented: “This has been a good six months for Centaur as we make progress towards achieving the revenue and EBITDA margin objectives set out under our MAP23 strategy. Our brands, led by the Flagship 4, continue to adapt their offerings to our customers’ demands, and are well-positioned to thrive in a post-Covid world. This has been due in no small part to the endeavours of our employees, who continue to be resilient, adaptable and creative in what remains an uncertain environment.”
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