National World report as follows:
Commenting on the results, Chairman, David Montgomery, said: "The company has successfully commenced the journey to revenue growth in the first half. Measures to deliver a sustainable multi-platform business continued apace despite the downturn in the advertising market. Five acquisitions in the period and improvements in newly launched online brands are replacing lost revenue from heritage assets and we now expect overall revenues for 2023 to exceed last year. Strong growth, particularly in video revenue, as well as the accelerated implementation of an innovative operating model will contribute to the delivery of full year profits in line with expectations."
Total revenue down 4%, digital revenue up 9%, cash balance of £22.1 million
- Revenue improvement seen in the second quarter despite challenging trading environment and against tough comparators. Total Revenue was down 4% to £41.6 million, with a flat year-on-year performance in quarter two, following an 8% decline in quarter one.
- Robust digital revenue growth, up 9% year-on-year to £8.9 million. The Group has delivered average monthly page views of 141 million in the first half, a 21% year-on-year improvement. Video advertising continues to be an area of growth, with revenues up 67% and total video views of 275 million in the first half, a 49% year-on-year improvement.
- Adjusted EBITDA of £3.1 million, down 47% and adjusted operating profit is £2.9 million, contributing factors being the downturn in advertising and investment in new brands. In the first half, the Group accelerated plans to implement the new operating model, which will deliver £1.1 million of savings in the second half with c.£2.5 million of annualised cost savings and restructuring costs of £0.9 million. However, the new model primarily focuses on sustaining our news brands in local markets by increasing reach and customer engagement. Investment in technology and platforms is well advanced and the first relaunches of fully automated and integrated print, online and video brands is expected this quarter.
- Acquisitions. For the five acquisitions completed in the period, the Group paid a total consideration of £3.0 million, (£1.9 million consideration net of cash acquired) funded from its existing cash resources. Revenue of £2.0 million and EBITDA contribution of £0.3 million are reported in the first half, with the bulk of this flowing from 1 May. For the full year, revenues of approximately £7.0 million are expected with an EBITDA contribution of c.£1.0 million.
- Investment. The Group has relaunched some of its key brands in both print and digital products in the first half including The Scotsman app relaunch and four of our daily print titles between April and June. Two more relaunches have been delivered in July and a final two will be complete in September. We continue to invest in automation technology and video with 250 of our journalists retrained in all aspects of TV journalism and operating new equipment. Our first Freeview TV channel Shots! (Channel 276) was launched on 19 July.
- Strong balance sheet with significant financial flexibility, closing cash balance of £22.1 million at 1 July 2023,with outstanding debt of £1.0 million. On 31 March 2023, National World made the final deferred instalment of £2.5 million in respect of the purchase of JPIMedia Group acquired in 2021.
- Dividend. On 24 May 2023, shareholders approved the payment of a 0.5 pence per share maiden dividend payable on 5 July. The dividend recognises the Company's significant progress over the last two years, during which time it has generated Adjusted EBITDA of £19.8 million on the assets acquired at the start of 2021 for £10.2 million.
The Company's primary focus is to build a sustainable and monetisable content business, embracing its news provision tradition but with a wider agenda across all platforms. This pivoting of the business has continued unabated despite the economic headwinds in the first half. In July revenues have increased by 2% year on year and the Company is poised to benefit in the second half from at least three of its key elements - the acquired businesses, new launches and relaunches of heritage brands and video and TV expansion. Therefore the Board confirms its view that the business will perform in line with expectation for the full year.
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