The financial results of the Agora Group in 3Q 2017

Corporate Communication
10.11.2017
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In 3Q 2017, Agora Group significantly increased its revenue from cinema operations - ticket sales, concession sales and sales of advertising services in the Helios cinema network, as well as the Radio segment's advertising proceeds. There was also an increase in the Group's copy sales revenue, inter alia, from the sales of the book and music titles of Agora Publishing House, and digital subscriptions of Gazeta Wyborcza which reached almost 110 thousand one quarter in advance. At the same time, through cost reduction in most segments, Agora Group reported better operating results yoy.

“We are satisfied with the results of the restructuring measures in the Press segment - in the 3Q 2017, Press business recorded the highest EBIT among all of the Agora Group’s operating segments. We are even more pleased with the results of digital subscriptions of Gazeta Wyborcza, especially significantly higher growth dynamics of revenues in this respect. The dynamic development of the Agora Group in the field of programmatic advertising gained the recognition of experts and the title of one of the fastest growing technology companies in Central Europe for our subsidiary, Yieldbird. We are also glad that the consistent implementation of our development plans has translated into an increase in revenue and profitability of the Radio segment” - comments Bartosz Hojka, CEO of Agora.


The financial performance and results achieved by Agora Group’s businesses in 3Q 2017 (yoy comparison):

The total revenue of the Agora Group amounted to PLN 251.4 million. The greatest increase was attributed to the revenue from sales of cinema tickets – by 6.5% to PLN 47.6 million and the revenue from concession sales – by 6.3% to PLN 18.7 million. In 3Q 2017, the number of tickets sold in the Helios cinemas amounted to almost 2.6 million, which meant a yoy increase of 6.3%. In the same period, the overall number of cinema tickets sold in Poland amounted to nearly 11.8 million and decreased by 7.9%[1]. The high growth of revenue from concession sales was driven by higher cinema attendance and higher average cinema bar prices compared to 3Q 2016.

There was also an increase in the Group’s revenue from copy sales, which amounted to PLN 31.7 million. This was achieved mainly owing to a yoy growth of revenue from products sold by Agora’s Publishing House (including such title as Ania – the biography of Anna Przybylska), digital subscription on the website Wyborcza.pl and publication of special editions of Gazeta Wyborcza’s magazines.

However, the revenue from advertising services provided by Agora Group decreased in 3Q 2017, and amounted to PLN 118.7 million. It was lower in the Press, Outdoor and Internet segments. An increase in sales of advertising services was recorded in the Radio, as well as Movies and Books segments.

The revenue from sales of Agora Group’s printing services decreased, and amounted to PLN 18.4 million. This resulted primarily from termination of the collaboration with few customers, a lower volume of orders and a higher share of print on customer-provided paper.

Another factor affecting the level of the Group’s revenue was the lower revenue from other sales amounting to PLN 16.3 million. Importantly, in the corresponding period of 2016, the revenue associated with the game The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and its additions, as well as with Titanic. The Exhibition had a positive impact on that item.

The Agora Group’s operating costs decreased by 8.0% and amounted to PLN 260.5 million. They were reduced to the highest extent in the Print and Press segments. They were also lower in most of the Group’s other segments. A visible increase in these costs was recorded only in the Movies and Books segment, mainly due to the higher staff costs, network development and a growing number of moviegoers.

Costs of external services, which decreased by 0.9% to PLN 96.5 million, were the largest cost item. The comparability of that item to the 3Q 2016 was influenced by the settlement made at the time with the producer of the game The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt related to sales of the game and additions. However, in 3Q 2017 an increase in costs of external services was visible in the Movies and Books segment as well as in Internet segment, which was associated with higher costs of film copy purchase, the expansion of the Helios cinema network and higher costs of internet sales.

In 3Q 2017, staff costs increased by 1.3% to PLN 77.1 million. The greatest increase in this cost item took place in the Movies and Books segment, which was associated with the change of the minimum hourly wage introduced at the beginning of 2017 and increased number of employees in the Helios network as a result of opening new cinemas. Staff costs were slightly higher also in the Internet and Radio segments, while these were reduced in such segments as Press, Outdoor and Print.

A decrease in the cost of materials and energy consumed and goods and materials sold, as compared to 3Q 2016, results mainly from a lower volume of printing in the Print segment and a lower volume of main press titles published by Agora Group.

The Group’s promotion and marketing costs decreased in 3Q 2017 by 21.5% to PLN 15.7 million. The sharpest decrease in this item was recorded in the Press and Radio segments. In the Internet segment, the level of these costs was similar to that recorded in 3Q 2016. However, an insignificant increase was recorded in such segments as Movies and Books and Outdoor.

Consequently, the Agora Group’s result at the EBITDA level increased by 4.0% to PLN 15.5 million, and loss at the EBIT level decreased to PLN 9.1 million in 3Q 2017. In addition, the Group significantly reduced net loss which amounted to PLN 1.6 million. The net loss attributable to the equity holders of the parent company amounted to PLN 2.2 million.

In the period from January to September 2017, Agora Group significantly improved the operating results – the result at the EBIT level increased to PLN 1.2 million, and the result at the EBITDA level to PLN 75.8 million. The Group also reduced the net loss to PLN 7.0 million. The net loss attributable to the equity holders of the parent company amounted to PLN 10.0 million.

In both periods, the transaction involving a sale of shares in Green Content Sp. z o.o. finalised in 3Q 2017 had a positive impact – PLN 11.4 million – on the Group’s net result.

ADDITIONAL NOTES – RESULTS OF AGORA’S SEGMENTS IN THE THIRD QUARTER OF 2017 (yoy comparison)

MOVIES AND BOOKS[2] – an increase in revenue and high cinema attendance

The revenue of the Movies and Books segment increased by 5.2% to PLN 87.7 million. This is mainly due to the dynamic growth of ticket sales in Helios cinemas. The number of visitors to Helios cinemas amounted to nearly 2.6 million and increased by 6.3% yoy. This, combined with a higher average ticket price and higher concession sales, translated into a considerably higher revenue from ticket sales and concession sales, which amounted to PLN 47.7 million and PLN 18.7 million, respectively.

In 3Q 2017, the Movies and Books segment’s total revenue from film co-production and distribution amounted to PLN 2.0 million, showing an increase yoy. In 3Q 2017, NEXT FILM released a Polish production titled Tarapaty. The Movies and Books segment also recorded revenue from co-production of the films released in earlier periods – mainly Jestem morderca and Sztuka kochania. Historia Michaliny Wislockiej due to their distribution in various channels.

In 3Q 2017, the revenue of Agora’s Publishing House amounted to PLN 7.5 million and decreased by 21.1% yoy. In 2016, this revenue item was highly affected by the sales of the game The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and its additions, and other projects implemented within this division, including Titanic, the Exhibition. However, the sales of book, music and DVD publications were higher.

In 3Q 2017, the operating costs of the Movies and Books segment increased by 8.7% and amounted to PLN 84.9 million. This was affected mainly by an increase in costs of external services of 13.0% and an increase in staff costs of 31.5% amounting to PLN 11.7 million. An increase in costs of external services is associated with higher costs of film copy purchase as a consequence of higher attendance at the Helios cinemas, which translated into increased revenue from ticket sales. Higher rental costs in Helios cinemas resulted from the expansion – in 3Q 2017, the Helios network increased by 6 cinemas yoy. A rise in staff costs was attributable mostly to an increase in the minimum hourly wage and a higher headcount due to an increase in the number of cinemas in the Helios network. There was also an increase in promotion and marketing costs and costs of raw materials, energy and consumables. However, operating costs of Agora’s Publishing House went down by 25.3%.

Consequently, the operating result of the Movies and Books segment at the EBIT level amounted to PLN 2.8 million, and at the EBITDA level to PLN 10.8 million in 3Q 2017.

After the opening of another cinema in Krosno in 3Q 2017, the Helios network has now 43 cinemas with 237 screens and more than 48 thousand seats, and remains the largest cinema operator in Poland with respect to the number of facilities. Helios also signed agreements to open new cinema facilities in 3 cities: Legionowo and Pabianice (opening scheduled for 2018) and in Zabrze (opening in 2020).

In 3Q 2017, Agora’s Publishing House issued 17 books, 7 music albums and 1 film publication. As a result, during the analysed period the Publishing House sold approximately 0.2 million books and books with CDs and DVDs. One of the best-selling titles in the book publishing section was the biography of Anna Przybylska – Ania.

PRESS – a significant improvement in the operating result and faster accomplishment of the digital subscription target

In 3Q 2017, the revenue of the Press segment amounted to PLN 56.1 million, a yoy decrease. This drop was primarily the result of lower revenue from advertising sales in the Gazeta Wyborcza daily[3,4] and the decision to discontinue the publication of the free Metrocafe.pl daily. Importantly, the revenue from advertising sales in Agora’s magazines increased by 5.3% to PLN 6.0 million, while an overall decrease in spending on magazine advertising was observed in that period. This is the effect, inter alia, of the dynamic development of websites, and the revenue from custom publishing projects, as well as special editions of Dziecko Psychologia and Avanti Fit&Beauty.

In 3Q 2017, the Press segment’s revenue from copy sales decreased to PLN 27.7 million. This was mainly due to reduced levels of copy sales of printed press. At the same time, the segment recorded higher revenue from digital subscription of Wyborcza.pl website and from special editions of Gazeta Wyborcza magazines (Psychologia Extra, Tylko Zdrowie Extra).

As in previous periods, the segment significantly reduced operating costs in Q3 2017 – they went down by 18.9% to PLN 52.5 million. Major contributing factors included lower costs of raw materials, energy, consumables and printing services due to lower printing volumes of the Gazeta Wyborcza daily and the discontinuation of selected press titles in 2016. This was accompanied by reduced promotion and marketing costs and staff costs, mainly as a result of collective redundancies in the segment in 4Q 2016.

Due to significantly lower operating costs, the Press segment improved again its operating result at the EBIT and EBITDA levels. This was mainly the positive effect of the restructuring process which the segment underwent in 2016, including changes to the publishing formula, collective redundancies, reductions in press title volumes and discontinuation of selected titles.

Gazeta Wyborcza successfully develops its digital subscription offer – at the end of September 2017, it reached the level of almost 110 thousand paid digital subscriptions, accomplishing this year’s target one quarter in advance. The crucial factor for the success of the project is the development of the internet competence of the entire Gazeta Wyborcza team, and an increasingly better monetization of content produced by local editors. The daily’s team is working hard not only to increase the level of digital subscription revenues, but also to increase the engagement of paying subscribers and their satisfaction with subscriptions. In August 2017, the website Wyborcza.pl changed the rules of commenting on the content – now only subscribers can comment on the articles and take part in the content-related discussions on the website.

In addition, in 2017 Gazeta Wyborcza is intensively developing other projects with foreign media, broadening its sources of information and technological competence. In September 2017, the group of its partners – the French-German Arte television, the European news portal EURACTIV and Google – was joined by the German Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg television (rbb), and in October by the prestigious American The Wall Street Journal daily.

In 3Q 2017, the Gazeta Wyborcza’s team prepared successful special editions of Psychologia. Uzaleznienia - wszystko co musisz wiedziec and Psychologia pracy (Wysokie Obcasy), and Ale milosc. 18 slynnych par (Ale Historia).

In August 2017, another edition of the Olsztyn Green Festival organised by Agora and the city of Olsztyn took place. The following artists appeared on the stage: Hey, Fisz Emade Tworzywo, O.S.T.R., Ten Typ Mes, The Dumplings, Xxanaxx, Julia Pietrucha, Natalia Przybysz, Laki Lan, BeMy, Mary Komasa and others. Every year, the event attracts more and more fans, which has a positive impact on the segment’s revenue.

OUTDOOR[5] – better-than-market dynamics of revenue and cost reduction

In 3Q 2017, as reported by IGRZ (the Outdoor Advertising Chamber), the value of spending on outdoor advertising decreased by 12% yoy. A decrease in revenue from sales of advertising[6] on AMS panels was, however, lower that the dynamics of the whole market and amounted to 10.3%. The dynamics of the advertising sales generated by AMS was significantly affected also by the discontinuation of advertising on panels in Warsaw metro cars.

The segment’s operating costs decreased by 3.5% to PLN 32.9 million, mostly as a result of reduced system maintenance costs – terminating the collaboration with the Warsaw metro operator with regard to advertising panels on the metro’s cars and changes in the structure the portfolio of panels. The costs of campaigns and staff costs also went down. However, promotion and marketing costs as well as depreciation costs were higher.

Due to a decrease in advertising sales recorded in 3Q 2017, the segment’s result at the EBITDA level amounted to PLN 6.0 million, and at the EBIT level to PLN 1.3 million.

AMS continued to work on bus/tram shelters as part of the project 1580 shelters for Warsaw. In 3Q 2017, another 154 bus/tram shelters were put into operation, and only 57 shelters have to be built.  

INTERNET[7] – an increase in proceeds from programmatic advertising

In 3Q 2017, the Internet segment’s total revenue8,9 decreased by 4.9% and amounted to PLN 36.7 million. The level of the segment’s revenue was mainly driven by lower revenues generated by Gazeta.pl websites, recruitment website, real estate website and Optimizers, and by lower other revenues generated by GoldenLine and Trader.com (Poland). However, it is worth noting that the decline in the Internet segment’s revenue was significantly reduced by the increase in advertising revenue by Yieldbird, a company that specialises in optimising the programmatic advertising revenue, and affiliate networks.

In 3Q 2017, the operating costs of the Internet segment increased by 1.5%. Their growth was significantly affected by higher staff costs, including training expenses and non-cash incentive plans related to share-based payments. The costs of external services (mainly marketing services) slightly increased, while promotion and advertising expenses decreased.

Consequently, the operating result of the Internet segment at the EBIT level amounted to PLN 2.7 million and at the EBITDA level to PLN 3.9 million.

In September 2017, the reach of Gazeta.pl group websites among Polish Internet users stood at 58.3%, and the number of users reached 15.6 million. The total number of page views of Gazeta.pl group websites reached 661.6 million, with an average viewing time of 54 minutes per user. The number of mobile page views amounted to 369.0 million, and the share of mobile page views on the websites of Gazeta.pl group stood at 55.8% and was the highest among Polish horizontal portals.

The websites of Gazeta.pl group are ranked among the top thematic market players. According to Gemius PBI data for September 2017, the websites of Gazeta.pl group are the vice leaders in such categories as Local and regional news, Diets and slimming, fitness (Myfitness.pl) and occupy the 3rd places in such categories as Information and journalism – general, Sports (inter alia Sport.pl), Work (Gazetapraca.pl, Goldenline.pl) and Children, family (eDziecko.pl).

In 3Q 2017, Yieldbird became the leading partner responsible for programmatic advertising for Celltick, an international mobile marketing firm, and established collaboration with Nyheter24 Group, one of Sweden's fastest-growing digital publishers. A growing scale of international business and the subsequent increase in Yieldbird’s revenue were recognised by experts of the 18th edition of Deloitte Technology Fast 50 Central Europe ranking. The company debuted on the 21st place in the ranking published in October 2017.

In September 2017, the offer of Gazeta.pl group in the parenting category was supplemented by Gazeta.pl Junior website intended for parents of pre-school and school children. The website offers, inter alia, information in the field of psychology, medicine and nutrition, and videos, e.g. Haps Kids and a new format – comedy online miniseries.

RADIO[10] – a significant improvement in operating result

In 3Q 2017, the Radio segment’s revenue11 increased by 14.2% and amounted to PLN 24.2 million. The increase in revenue resulted mainly from higher air time sales in the radio stations of Agora Radio Group and higher proceeds from the brokerage services provided for Helios network cinemas. In the discussed period, there was also an increase in proceeds from brokerage of sale of air time in stations of other broadcasters. It is worth noting that in the discussed period the spending on radio advertising increased by 6.5%.

In 3Q 2017, the segment’s operating costs the decreased by 6.9%. This is the effect of decreasing promotion and advertising costs due to the lower spending on promotion of Radio Złote Przeboje yoy. In 2017, the main image campaign for this radio station was launched in 1Q instead of 3Q. This was accompanied by growth in staff costs and costs of external services.

As a result of higher-than-market growth in revenue in 3Q 2017, the Radio segment’s results on the EBIT and EBITDA levels significantly improved, amounting to PLN 2.6 million and PLN 3.5 million, respectively.

The stations belonging to the Agora Radio Group are very popular among the listeners, thus their shares in the audience are growing in 2017. In addition, the stations of Agora increase their technical coverage – at the beginning of July 2017, a new TOK FM radio station started broadcasting in Tarnowskie Gory. At present, the network operates in 23 urban areas in total. In 3Q 2017, the Agora Radio Group won the National Radio and Television Council’s tender for radio frequency in Gdansk and will be able to launch Radio Pogoda in this city.

In the discussed period, Tandem Media, radio and cinema broker of Agora Radio Group launched a new offer of effectiveness surveys of advertising campaigns. The proposed solution allows to verify the impact of radio promotional activities on purchase decisions of listeners.

PRINT[12] – a reduction in the segment’s operating costs

The total revenue of the Print segment decreased to PLN 20.4 million, mainly as a result of a lower volume of production, inter alia, due to discontinuation of cooperation with some of the customers, as well as higher share of printing services on paper provided by customers. This was also reflected in the segment’s operating costs which declined by 39.1% and amounted to PLN 24.3 million.

The segment’s operating result at the EBITDA level amounted to PLN 1.3 million, and loss at the EBIT level amounted to PLN 3.9 million.

Notes

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