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2021-10-27

Sanoma Corporation, Interim Report January–September 2021: Strong net sales and operational earnings growth in both businesses

Sanoma Corporation, Stock Exchange Release, 27 October 2021 at 8:30 EET

Sanoma Corporation, Interim Report January–September 2021: Strong net sales and operational earnings growth in both businesses

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

Q3 2021  

  • The Group’s net sales grew to EUR 486 million (2020: 401) driven by the acquisition of Santillana as well as strong organic growth both in Learning and Media Finland. The Group’s comparable net sales growth was 8% (2020: -2%).
  • Operational EBIT excl. PPA grew by 32% to EUR 147 million (2020: 112). Earnings improved in Learning driven by the acquisition of Santillana and organic growth, while being stable in Media Finland with operating costs normalising after the coronavirus pandemic.
  • EBIT was EUR 133 million (2020: 267). In the comparison period of Q3 2020, the EBIT included a capital gain of EUR 165 million related to the divestment of Oikotie online classified business. Items affecting comparability (IACs) were EUR -4 million (2020: 161). Purchase price allocation adjustments and amortisations (PPAs) increased to EUR 11 million (2020: 6) as a result of the Santillana acquisition.
  • Operational EPS was EUR 0.64 (2020: 0.50) and EUR 0.64 (2020: 0.50) including discontinued operations.
  • EPS was EUR 0.63 (2020: 1.49) and EUR 0.63 (2020: 1.50) including discontinued operations.
  • On 26 October, the Board of Directors decided the record date and payment date of the second dividend instalment of EUR 0.26 per share. The dividend record date is 28 October and the payment date 4 November.  

Q1−Q3 2021  

  • The Group’s net sales amounted to EUR 999 million (2020: 834) as net sales grew in both businesses both organically and through acquisitions. Organic growth was strong in both businesses and the Group’s comparable net sales growth was 8% (2020: -6%).
  • Operational EBIT excl. PPA grew to EUR 203 million (2020: 158) driven by solid net sales growth in both Learning and Media Finland.
  • EBIT was EUR 161 million (2020: 293). IACs totalled EUR -11 million (2020: 151). PPAs increased to EUR 31 million (2020: 17) as a result of the Santillana acquisition.
  • Operational EPS increased to EUR 0.76 (2020: 0.64). Operational EPS including discontinued operations was EUR 0.76 (2020: 0.73).
  • EPS was EUR 0.70 (2020: 1.59) and EUR 0.70 (2020: 1.67) including discontinued operations.
  • Free cash flow improved to EUR 85 million (2020: 65), while the contribution of Santillana was still seasonally negative.
  • Net debt/Adj. EBITDA increased to 2.5 (2020: 1.0) as a result of the Santillana acquisition.
  • On 1 June, Sanoma announced it increased its ownership in event organiser Nelonen Media Live Ltd. from 60% to 100%.
  • 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 in 2015–2018. Sanoma considers the claims completely unjustified and has appealed the decisions. On 1 July, Sanoma paid the required VAT, the related penalty and interests of EUR 25 million and has booked the amount paid as a receivable in Q3 2021.

Outlook for 2021 (published on 26 October)

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 excl. PPA is expected to be around 15.5% (2020: 14.7%).

The updated outlook is based on the actual January–September 2021 performance and updated estimate for October–December 2021 of Sanoma’s businesses, where the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic has decreased in events and B2B advertising compared to earlier in the year.

President and CEO Susan Duinhoven:

”Our business developed very well during the first nine months of 2021 in both Learning and Media Finland. The Group’s net sales grew by 20% compared to January–September a year ago as the impact of acquisitions was complemented with strong organic net sales growth. The Group’s operational earnings improvement of 28% was even stronger than the sales growth. We have updated our profitability outlook for 2021 and now expect operational EBIT margin excluding PPA to be around 15.5% based on the good performance of the first nine months and decreased uncertainty related to events and B2B advertising.

In Learning, the third quarter is always the most important quarter of the year. This year, its importance to our business was even higher in two ways: Santillana in Spain was onboard for the first time, and there was a curriculum renewal ongoing in Poland. In these two countries, sales of learning materials are even more focused around the start of the new school year, and thus the third quarter, than in our other operating markets. The integration of Santillana has progressed according to our plan. As the corona restrictions have been easing out, we have also been able to visit each other face-to-face, which has been very valuable. The Santillana team is well-prepared for the educational reform in 2022−23, although its pace and phasing is still uncertain as the local authorities in the Spanish provinces have not yet taken the final decisions. Ahead of the new curriculum, the bookstores and distributors typically return the books they do not need any more, but due to the uncertainty related to the reform in 2022−23, the level of these returns and their remaining value is still uncertain. In January–September, Learning’s organic growth of 6% was even above our long-term target of 2−5%. It is good to keep in mind that the more the learning business grows, the more loss-making Q1 and Q4 become due to the typical seasonality.

In Media Finland, we saw solid organic growth during the third quarter both in events, B2B and B2C businesses. The number of subscriptions in both Helsingin Sanomat and Ruutu+ continued to grow nicely, while we see signs of the strong corona-driven subscription growth slowing down slightly. We believe this is a general trend signalling that people’s use of media, both news and entertainment, is returning to the pre-pandemic levels. In advertising, the underlying long-term trends have accelerated and in January–September, our digital advertising sales in euros are for the first time exceeding the amount of our print advertising sales. On the cost side, we continue our close focus on cost containment, while the majority of pandemic-driven savings have discontinued and we return to normalised cost levels.

Our leverage decreased during the third quarter in-line with the typical seasonality of our business. Overall, we have a solid financial position and the ability to create a good cash flow, and our aim is to continue to grow our businesses organically, and in particular our K12 learning business also through M&A.

We have implemented our Sustainability Strategy now for six months and have been very happy to see how strongly it resonates both with our employees, customers, suppliers and investors. We have implemented several improvements in our operations, and increased especially our sustainability reporting, and this is reflected as improvements in several ESG ratings of Sanoma. As a learning and media company having a positive impact on the lives of millions of people every day, the sustainability aspects are at the very core of our day-to-day work.

During the past weeks, we have encouraged our people to return to the office for a couple of days a week and are adjusting to the new hybrid ways of working. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our teams for the work very well done under the challenging conditions that we have experienced during the past 18 months. Having seen how agile and flexible our teams are, I am confident that we can adapt again and capture the positives of the ‘better normal’ in the times ahead as well.’’

Key indicators for continuing operations

EUR millionQ3 2021Q3 2020ChangeQ1−Q3 2021 Q1‒Q3 2020ChangeFY 2020
Net sales486.3400.821%999.2834.420%1,061.7
Operational EBITDA 1)184.5
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