Catena reports 2021 operating loss amid North American growth

Catena Media has emphasized its long-term growth strategy and ongoing international expansion projects after recording 2021 operating losses of $14.41m.
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Catena Media Plc has emphasized its long-term growth strategy and ongoing international expansion projects after recording a full-year 2021 operating loss of $14.41m in its latest financial report. 

The company registered $154.31m in 2021 revenues, up 28% year-over-year on FY2020’s $120.27m.

The firm also underlined how the growth of its North American network played a key role in revenue growth, contributing 50% of yearly returns as North American sports betting and casino yield rose by 116% to $77.06m (FY2020: $35.75m)

However, its FY2021 results were significantly impacted by the impairment of previously acquired German and French sports media assets totaling $55.60m.

Despite German market setbacks, Catena’s network noted a 32% gain in new depositing customers (NDCs) to 585,000 (FY2020: 443,000).

CEO Michael Daly commented: “We continue to position ourselves for the global trend towards betting and casino regulation. The strict restrictions imposed on online gaming in Germany in the last year have been a challenging experience for us and the industry as a whole.

“But our intention is to learn from the process so we are better positioned in countries that may regulate in the future. Our business model thrives in regulated markets, and we embrace regulation as a way to ensure a level playing field and transparency for all.”

Catena achieved growth across all its media units. Casino led all FY2021 revenues with $97.58m (FY2020: $79.42m) and EBITDA results of $59m (FY2020: $47.65m).

The group’s expanded sports betting network registered a 51% revenue improvement to $52.16m (FY2020: $34.04m), doubling its EBITDA contribution to $17.70m (FY2020: $8.62m).

Commenting on the North American market, Daly said Catena benefited from “strong sports betting activity allied to NFL fixtures”, in Q4, but the upside was tempered by higher direct costs allied to the launch of sports betting in Arizona in September.

He added: “Year-on-year performance remained buoyed by the legalization during 2021 of online sports betting and casino gaming in Michigan and online sports betting in Virginia, Arizona, and Wyoming. In each case, our approach of investing substantially in the market prior to launch paid off handsomely.

“We successfully deployed similar tactics in New York and Louisiana prior to the legalization of online sports betting in both states in January 2022. New York is likely to be our largest sports market going forward.”

Catena reported an adjusted EBITDA of $78.29m in 2021, a 32% improvement YoY (FY2020: $59m) thanks to network growth.

Despite absorbing significant European impairments, the firm noted its much improved cash-flow performance from assets that totaled $74.88m during full-year trading.

In terms of the 2022 outlook, the company expects North American revenues to surpass $100m so long as current market estimates and launch timetables hold firm.

Daly concluded: “Early in 2022, our affiliate sports betting offers enjoyed successful launches in New York and Louisiana. We also look forward with anticipation to the scheduled launch of sportsbook betting and casino gaming in Ontario in Canada at the start of Q2.

“Our extensive programme of advance investment and preparation gives us high expectations that Ontario will be among our largest North American markets in the future.

“If the market develops at its current expected rate, and no delays or similar unforeseen events occur in relation to scheduled market openings, we confidently expect revenue in North America to surpass $100m in 2022.”