Czerska 8/10 Street
Numer KRS: 59944
March 19, 2021 / 08:54
In 2020, the Agora Group faced the serious effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, most strongly felt by its advertising and cinema businesses. Confronting the pandemic, the Management Board of Agora decided to implement a crisis plan, which included a number of measures securing the company's long-term financial liquidity and cost savings, as well as closing businesses deprived of opportunities for development in the current situation. On the other hand, the digitization processes in the Group, consistently implemented for several years, accelerated even more, resulting in the increase in the number of subscriptions and the level of digital inflows of Gazeta Wyborcza and TOK FM, as well as the digital revenues of Agora Publishing House. Ultimately, the Agora Group ended 2020 with a profit on the EBITDA level.
- The 2020 pandemic closed cinemas for a year - the greatest source of Agora's inflows. It hit advertising businesses painfully, especially outdoor advertising. As a result, our revenues decreased by over PLN 400 million. In response, we took decisive savings measures, suspended most investment plans, and immediately closed those projects that had limited prospects of rapid recovery from the pandemic. Thanks to the reduction of the Group's operating costs by almost PLN 280 million, we ended the year with a positive EBITDA result and a very safe level of liquidity - commented Bartosz Hojka, the President of the Management Board of Agora. - Digital transformation has been Agora's priority for years. We used 2020 as an opportunity to accelerate this process, the effects of which can be seen, i.a., in the results of “Gazeta Wyborcza”, the Internet segment and the Agora Publishing House. In 2021, we will continue to invest in technology and digital sales development, while working to restore AMS to full capacity and rebuild Helios.
In 2020, the total revenues of the Agora Group amounted to PLN 836.5 million and were 33.1% lower than in 2019. This level of income was mainly due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects felt by the Agora Group from 2Q2020 - especially in the area of advertising and cinema activities. The most significant decrease in revenues was recorded by Agora's largest business - the Helios cinema network, which, due to the administrative closure of facilities throughout the 2Q2020 and the greater part of the 4Q, did not generate income, and in the 3Q struggled with a limited repertoire offer and sales limits for seats available in each cinema screening room. However, it is worth noting the increase in the Group's digital revenues - both from the sale of access to premium content, as well as digital OOH and online advertising. Such effects were ensured by a strong focus on digitization a few years ago, and during the pandemic - intensification of activities, additional promotion of the digital offer, especially within Agora, and investments in increasing advertising efficiency.
Advertising sales of the Group amounted to PLN 452.2 million and decreased by 22.0%. Their decline occurred in all operating segments except the Internet. The segment most intensely suffering from the decrease in advertising revenues was the Outdoor, where the ad income was lower by 38.8%, mainly in connection with pandemic restrictions resulting in reduction of the number of people in public space. The increase in advertising revenues in the Internet segment was ensured by higher inflows of Yieldbird and Gazeta.pl.
In 2020, income from the ticket sales and concession sales in the Helios cinemas, which remained closed for a large part of the year - 168 days, decreased significantly. At the same time, the number of cinema tickets sold in Poland reached almost 17.1 million and decreased by 71.9%*.
The value of the Group's copy sales amounted to PLN 133.8 million showing a decrease by 3.9% as compared to 2019. This was mainly due to the reduction of the sales network for both books and press titles, contributing to lower revenues from the sale of publications in stationary outlets. On the other hand, revenues from the sale of subscriptions to Wyborcza.pl content were higher. At the end of December 2020, the number of Gazeta Wyborcza’s digital subscriptions reached nearly 260,000, increasing by 19.2% yoy. The share of all digital revenues of the daily has already totalled ca. 36.0% - this is the result of consistent investments in the digitization of Agora's flagship press title, which has been carried out for over 7 years. The Agora Publishing House, which has become increasingly present in e-bookstores, also achieved an increase in digital revenues from the sale of its publications by over 60.0%.
At the same time, last year Agora also recorded lower revenues in other categories.
Thanks to quickly introduced savings measures and numerous internal initiatives taken by the Management Board in the face of the pandemic, the Agora Group reduced its operating costs in 2020 by nearly PLN 280 million - to PLN 948.2 million. They were lower in all segments of the Group, and their greatest decrease was recorded in the areas: the Movies and Books, the Press, the Radio and the Outdoor.
Significant impact on Agora's operating expenses last year had savings projects, such as renegotiating rents with owners of shopping malls cooperating with cinemas and restaurants, as well as resignation from many marketing projects in the Group. Some of the cost reductions also resulted from legal regulations (suspension of payments for rents in cinemas and restaurants in shopping malls) or the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on selected forms of activity (including costs related to the implementation of advertising campaigns).
Immediately after the outbreak of the pandemic, the Management Board of Agora also decided to cease businesses or to reduce the scale of ventures which were deprived of opportunities for development in the new situation. In connection with these activities, Agora recorded one-off additional costs and made the necessary write-offs updating the value of assets. Impairment losses were also recorded in the AMS S.A. group, Helios S.A. and in Agora. At the same time, the level of costs was positively influenced by the profit from the sale of real estate and the part of the enterprise Plan D. In total, the cost of all these events charged the Agora Group's results with PLN 28.7 million in 2020.
Thanks to lower expenses, cost discipline and consistent investments in digitization, in 2020 the Agora Group achieved a profit at the EBITDA level of PLN 89.2 million. The loss at the EBIT level amounted to PLN 111.7 million, and the net loss stood at PLN 130.2 million**.
Based on the available market data, the Management Board of Agora estimates that the value of the Polish advertising market in 2021 will grow as compared to 2020, although the 1Q2021 will also bring a decline in advertising spending. The increases in the value of the advertising market should be visible from the 2Q2021. The only segment in which the value of advertising expenditure will shrink in 2021 will be press in traditional form, while the remaining ones will begin to rebuild their value.
Taking into account the pace of recovery of the advertising market and the uncertainty about the date of return to the activity of individual sectors of the economy, in particular cinemas, the management board of the company estimates that in the entire 2021 the revenues of the Agora Group may be slightly higher than in 2020, and the reported operating loss will be lower than in 2020.
Data source: consolidated financial statements according to IFRS, 4Q2020.
* Data on attendance in Helios cinemas is reported according to calendar periods, and data on market attendance - according to Boxoffice.pl. In the latter approach, the sale of cinema tickets is reported in periods that are not identical to the calendar month, quarter or year. The number of tickets sold in a given period is measured from the first Friday of a given month, quarter or year to the first Thursday of the following month, quarter or reporting year.
Ticket sales data are estimates of the Helios group prepared partly based on Boxoffice.pl data on the basis of data provided from film copy distributors and in the 4Q2019 by cinema networks due to the fact that one of the distributors ceased to provide data.
** Without IFRS 16, in 2020 the Group recorded an EBITDA profit of PLN 38.2 million, and the loss at the EBIT level was PLN 93.1 million. At the same time, the Group's net loss without IFRS 16 amounted to PLN 73.4 million.