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Ad tech credentials boosted by Google partnership

Media and Games Invest 22 November 2022 Update
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Media and Games Invest

Adtech credentials boosted by Google partnership

Q3 results,
Google agreement

Media

22 November 2022

Price

€1.83

Market cap

€292m

€0.98/US$

Net debt (€m) at end September 2022

308

Shares in issue

159.3m

Free float

70.1%

Code

M8G

Primary exchange

Nasdaq Stockholm First North Premier Growth

Secondary exchange

Deutsche Börse Scale, OTCQX

Share price performance

%

1m

3m

12m

Abs

22.2

(25.0)

(65.4)

Rel (local)

8.2

(29.3)

(61.1)

52-week high/low

€5.4

€1.4

Business description

Media and Games Invest is an advertising software platform with strong first-party games content. It mainly operates in North America and Europe. Organic growth has been supplemented with acquisitions, and the group has bought more than 35 companies and assets in the past six years.

Next events

Preliminary FY22 results

28 February 2023

Analysts

Fiona Orford-Williams

+44 (0)20 3077 5739

Milo Bussell

+44 (0)20 3077 5700

Media and Games Invest is a research client of Edison Investment Research Limited

Media and Games Invest’s (MGI’s) media operation, Verve Group, has been made a partner on Google’s Open Bidding platform. This gives it far wider reach on both the demand (advertiser) side and supply (publisher) side, accessing inventory (advertising opportunities) via real-time auctions. MGI’s Q3 revenue growth was strong at 39% (23% organic) and FY22 guidance was lifted, with margin pressure from market conditions resulting in unchanged EBITDA guidance. We have adjusted our forecasts accordingly. Google’s endorsement should give greater confidence in MGI’s medium-term prospects as it concentrates on organic growth rather than on M&A. The rating remains at a market discount to peers.

Year end

Revenue
(€m)

Adjusted
EBITDA* (€m)

PBT*
(€m)

EPS*
(€)

EV/adjusted
EBITDA* (x)

P/E
(x)

12/20

140.2

35.8

21.2

0.16

16.8

11.2

12/21

252.2

71.1

33.0

0.20

8.4

9.3

12/22e

322.0

88.5

39.0

0.22

6.8

8.5

12/23e

393.5

102.5

48.5

0.26

5.8

7.0

Note: *EBITDA, PBT and EPS are normalised, excluding amortisation of acquired intangibles, exceptional items and share-based payments.

More customers attract more customers

The withdrawal of personal identifiers significantly alters the digital advertising landscape. MGI’s Verve Group is already one of 24 partners working in Google’s Privacy Sandbox, iterating approaches to privacy-first targeting. Most partners are web-focused, and Verve is valued for its premium mobile, in-app experience, including its supply-side platform and reputation for a high-quality inventory. The new agreement – Google’s first in over two years – allows publishers using Google Ad Manager to access Verve’s demand-side customers, with the extra traffic benefiting existing supply-side customers (publishers). For advertisers, Verve’s demand-side clients will be able to access publishers using Google Ad Manager, accelerating the scaling up of this aspect. Essentially, more publishers attract more advertisers, drawing more publishers etc, with each element building critical mass.

Q3 results: Lifted revenue guidance

Q3 results showed 39% revenue growth, of which 23% was organic, despite the tougher backdrop for advertising spend – the strongest Q3 performance of the adtech peer group in our research. Revenue guidance for FY22 has been lifted from €295–315m to €315–325m, with adjusted EBITDA unchanged at €83–93m, reflecting the impact of a more difficult trading environment on margin. Our FY22 revenue forecast rises €15m to €322m, with EBITDA down from €92.4m to €88.5m. Our FY23e numbers raise revenue and broadly maintain adjusted EBITDA.

Valuation: Well below peers

MGI’s share price is down 57% year to date, versus global adtech peers down 52% on average, while quoted gaming companies have done a little better, retrenching by 25%. MGI’s shares are valued below both sets of peers. Parity averaged across FY21–23 would imply a share price of €4.43 (was €3.93), with a DCF indicating a value of €4.21 (was €4.13).

Strong Q3 revenue progress, some margin pressure

The revenue growth was achieved primarily through bringing new (substantial) software clients on board, although there was also progress in extending business with existing software customers, with the ‘Net Dollar Expansion Rate’ at 104%. Given the weakening advertising spend through the quarter, even this modest growth is encouraging, particularly as the softer market meant that the cost-per-mille (CPM) rates were falling overall, so each $1 of revenue takes more ads to earn.

Exhibit 1: Quarterly summary results, year-to-date

€m

Q122

Q222

Q322

Revenue

65.9

78.1

87.6

y-o-y revenue growth (%)

27%

37%

39%

q-o-q revenue growth (%)

-18%

19%

12%

EBITDA

16.9

20.0

21.4

Adjusted EBITDA

17.6

21.1

23.0

Adjusted EBITDA margin (%)

27%

27%

26%

Source: MGI

Trailing 12 months revenue to end September was €311.7m, which was already at the top end of guidance, so this shift upwards in FY22 guidance simply confirms that, although CPMs are likely to be lower in Q4, overall revenues will still move forward in a range of 4–17% to put the full year results in the €315–325m range (+13% on our modelled number).

With adjusted EBITDA, the 9M22 figure of €61.7m leaves €21.3m to €31.3m to do in Q422 to match management guidance. Our revised FY22 modelled assumption of €88.5m, down from €92.4m, implies Q422 EBITDA of €26.8m, which would be 17% ahead of Q322 and 28% up year-on-year.

Exhibit 2: Summary adjustments to forecasts

Revenue (€m)

Adjusted EBITDA (€m)

EPS (€)

Old

New

% chg.

Old

New

% chg.

Old

New

% chg.

2022e

307.0

322.0

+5

92.4

88.5

-4

0.22

0.22

-3

2023e

370.0

393.5

+6

103.0

102.5

0

0.24

0.26

+9

Source: Edison Investment Research

At an operational level, there is some additional labour cost from the group’s innovation programmes, but there is a simultaneous benefit from the degree of automation as the business scales. Over the short term, MGI will also need to bear the costs of the relocation to Sweden (see our November update). These should fall away over the course of FY23, and we would anticipate the adjusted EBITDA margin starting to move ahead again from FY24.

Cash flow towards investing for the first nine months of the year was €175m, with €26m spent in Q322, including the initial payment for Dataseat. Our FY22e forecast is for investment spend of €183m, falling to €73m for FY23e. As at end September, the group had net interest-bearing debt of €308m (end June 2022: €299m). The leverage ratio was 3.6x net debt/EBITDA, which is above management’s target range of below 3.0x, but below the 3.7x quoted at end Q222. However, it should be borne in mind that the EBITDA figure only includes five months of contribution from AxesInMotion and three months from Dataseat.

Building a trusted, neutral marketplace

Verve is now a bidding partner for in-app inventory on Google Ad Manager on Google’s Open Bidding platform. It is worth digging into this a little deeper.

Firstly, what is Verve? Verve is MGI’s media arm, providing the adtech platform, which enables publishers to access advertising demand and advertisers to access publishers’ inventory on a device-agnostic basis and in an ecosystem that has been built with privacy-first at its core. It numbers 90 of the largest 100 US-based advertisers among its client base and has relationships with over 5,000 publishers around the globe, as well as MGI’s own in-house games stable.

What is the benefit for advertisers? Verve’s existing advertising clients will be able to access a much wider pool of in-app inventory to bid on in real-time. A high-level guide to Google Ad Manager is provided here (with additional details on current trials of versions of the Privacy Sandbox in subsequent links). Demand partners (ie those looking to place advertising content) can access large volumes of apps that are using the Open Bidding platform via Verve.

What is the benefit to MGI/Verve on the demand side? This agreement gives significant potential to scale up MGI on the demand side of the equation and give better balance between the demand and supply sides (supply currently dominates, with 89% of Q322 revenues). It makes it less important for MGI to be looking for additional M&A opportunities and more able to concentrate on organic growth.

What is the benefit to publishers? Publishers who monetise their apps using Google Ad Manager on the Open Bidding platform can now access the large pool of advertisers that work through Verve, and which have premium advertising inventory that they are looking to place.

What is the benefit to MGI/Verve on the supply side? Being part of a bigger pool of in-app advertising opportunities should attract more advertisers, with a larger slice of the pie being pushed through the Verve ad software platform.

As the market continues to move away from cookies and individual or device identifiers, there is likely to be increasing demand for Verve’s proprietary privacy-first targeting solutions, built with its expertise and experience from its own publishing activities. These are both contextual (back to the future in terms of placing advertising alongside the content that is relevant to it), using natural language processing and anonymised audiences, and cohort based, using machine learning and probabilistic audiences.

Elements of resilience built into outlook

There are two key points of note when appraising the group’s short-term prospects. Firstly, free-to-play games tend to be reasonably robust in a downturn, particularly when compared to subscription packages. Around 50% of the group’s EBITDA is earned from free-to-play games.

It is also worth noting that, while based out of Europe, this is very much an international business, generating around 70% of its advertising revenues from the United States, where the current economic indicators are looking considerably more benign than those in Europe.

Management is aiming to come out of the recession stronger. To do this, it must continue to invest and manage the cost base. With both the demand side and supply side catered to within the group’s market offering, new approaches can be developed, tested and brought to market faster, with the group being able to iterate as it goes along rather than having to rely on third parties. The availability of advertiser data gives a feedback loop in building into predictive modelling to optimise ROI. This feedback loop obviously also benefits from being able to fish in a bigger pond through the Google co-operation.

Exhibit 3: Financial summary

€'000s

2019

2020

2021

2022e

2023e

31-December

IFRS

IFRS

IFRS

IFRS

IFRS

INCOME STATEMENT

Revenue

 

 

83,893

140,220

252,166

322,000

393,500

Operating costs excl. D&A

(66,965)

(104,469)

(181,094)

(233,500)

(291,000)

Adjusted EBITDA

 

 

16,928

35,751

71,072

88,500

102,500

Operating profit (before amort. and excepts.)

 

 

12,417

28,380

54,942

69,392

80,702

Amortisation of acquired intangibles

(6,032)

(8,137)

(11,964)

(12,562)

(15,075)

Exceptionals

(1,386)

(6,993)

(4,708)

(3,500)

(3,500)

Share-based payments

0

(2,209)

(1,466)

(1,613)

(1,774)

Reported operating profit

4,999

11,041

36,804

51,717

60,353

Net Interest

(5,758)

(7,140)

(21,919)

(30,414)

(32,172)

Joint ventures & associates (post tax)

0

0

0

0

0

Exceptionals

0

0

0

0

0

Profit Before Tax (norm)

 

 

6,659

21,240

33,023

38,978

48,530

Profit Before Tax (reported)

 

 

(759)

3,901

14,886

21,303

28,181

Reported tax

2,012

(1,194)

1,169

(3,149)

(4,166)

Profit After Tax (norm)

4,508

15,281

28,163

33,216

41,356

Profit After Tax (reported)

1,253

2,707

16,055

18,154

24,016

Minority interests

1,577

(352)

(7)

0

0

Discontinued operations

0

0

0

0

0

Net income (normalised)

2,931

15,633

28,019

33,216

41,356

Net income (reported)

(324)

3,059

16,061

18,154

24,016

Average Number of Shares Outstanding (m)

60.4

85.5

141.7

154.5

159.2

EPS - basic normalised (€)

 

 

0.05

0.18

0.20

0.22

0.26

EPS - normalised fully diluted (€)

 

 

0.04

0.16

0.20

0.22

0.26

EPS - basic reported (€)

 

 

(0.01)

0.04

0.11

0.12

0.15

Dividend (€)

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Revenue growth (%)

157.2

67.1

79.8

27.7

22.2

Adjusted EBITDA Margin (%)

20.2

25.5

28.2

27.5

26.0

Normalised Operating Margin (%)

14.8

20.2

21.8

21.6

20.5

BALANCE SHEET

Fixed Assets

 

 

256,593

293,466

650,495

847,559

866,273

Intangible Assets

233,208

272,829

605,746

820,744

837,871

Tangible Assets

3,521

1,742

4,681

6,268

7,855

Investments & other

19,864

18,895

40,068

20,547

20,547

Current Assets

 

 

55,856

92,376

283,598

230,951

246,265

Stocks

0

0

0

0

0

Debtors

17,047

37,009

97,497

111,597

123,979

Cash & cash equivalents

32,984

46,254

180,156

113,409

116,341

Other

5,825

9,113

5,945

5,945

5,945

Current Liabilities

 

 

54,544

78,205

243,433

240,343

250,083

Creditors

20,274

30,037

53,754

62,664

72,404

Short term borrowings

1,409

6,089

32,027

32,027

32,027

Other financial liabilities

17,948

30,155

137,604

125,604

125,604

Other non-financial liabilities

14,913

11,924

20,048

20,048

20,048

Long Term Liabilities

 

 

89,347

130,792

383,168

433,168

428,168

Long term borrowings

69,916

98,104

346,382

391,382

391,382

Other long term liabilities

19,431

32,688

36,786

41,786

36,786

Net Assets

 

 

168,558

176,845

307,493

404,999

434,288

Minority interests

70,490

(60)

(59)

1,314

1,314

Shareholders' equity

 

 

239,048

176,785

307,434

406,313

435,602

CASH FLOW

Operating Cash Flow

1,253

2,707

16,054

18,154

24,016

Depreciation & amortisation

10,543

15,508

28,238

31,670

36,873

Working capital

4,692

(4,543)

(5,714)

(5,190)

(2,643)

Exceptional & other

(5,079)

4,072

1,167

1,613

1,774

Tax

(822)

112

1,514

87

0

Net finance cost

5,612

7,347

23,583

30,414

32,172

Net operating cash flow

 

 

16,199

25,203

64,842

76,747

92,192

Capex

(12,611)

(19,098)

(39,844)

(45,315)

(52,921)

Acquisitions/disposals

2,831

(18,609)

(255,790)

(138,000)

(20,000)

Equity financing

8,845

26,876

109,338

27,900

0

Dividends

0

0

0

0

0

Other

(13,415)

(31,304)

(24,920)

(33,081)

(16,339)

Net Cash Flow

1,849

(16,932)

(146,374)

(111,748)

2,932

Opening net debt/(cash)

 

 

32,593

38,341

57,939

198,253

310,000

FX

0

0

0

0

0

Other non-cash movements

(7,597)

(2,666)

6,060

1

0

Closing net debt/(cash)

 

 

38,341

57,939

198,253

310,000

307,068

Source: Company accounts, Edison Investment Research

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This report has been commissioned by Media and Games Invest and prepared and issued by Edison, in consideration of a fee payable by Media and Games Invest. Edison Investment Research standard fees are £60,000 pa for the production and broad dissemination of a detailed note (Outlook) following by regular (typically quarterly) update notes. Fees are paid upfront in cash without recourse. Edison may seek additional fees for the provision of roadshows and related IR services for the client but does not get remunerated for any investment banking services. We never take payment in stock, options or warrants for any of our services.

Accuracy of content: All information used in the publication of this report has been compiled from publicly available sources that are believed to be reliable, however we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this report and have not sought for this information to be independently verified. Opinions contained in this report represent those of the research department of Edison at the time of publication. Forward-looking information or statements in this report contain information that is based on assumptions, forecasts of future results, estimates of amounts not yet determinable, and therefore involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of their subject matter to be materially different from current expectations.

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This report has been commissioned by Media and Games Invest and prepared and issued by Edison, in consideration of a fee payable by Media and Games Invest. Edison Investment Research standard fees are £60,000 pa for the production and broad dissemination of a detailed note (Outlook) following by regular (typically quarterly) update notes. Fees are paid upfront in cash without recourse. Edison may seek additional fees for the provision of roadshows and related IR services for the client but does not get remunerated for any investment banking services. We never take payment in stock, options or warrants for any of our services.

Accuracy of content: All information used in the publication of this report has been compiled from publicly available sources that are believed to be reliable, however we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this report and have not sought for this information to be independently verified. Opinions contained in this report represent those of the research department of Edison at the time of publication. Forward-looking information or statements in this report contain information that is based on assumptions, forecasts of future results, estimates of amounts not yet determinable, and therefore involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of their subject matter to be materially different from current expectations.

Exclusion of Liability: To the fullest extent allowed by law, Edison shall not be liable for any direct, indirect or consequential losses, loss of profits, damages, costs or expenses incurred or suffered by you arising out or in connection with the access to, use of or reliance on any information contained on this note.

No personalised advice: The information that we provide should not be construed in any manner whatsoever as, personalised advice. Also, the information provided by us should not be construed by any subscriber or prospective subscriber as Edison’s solicitation to effect, or attempt to effect, any transaction in a security. The securities described in the report may not be eligible for sale in all jurisdictions or to certain categories of investors.

Investment in securities mentioned: Edison has a restrictive policy relating to personal dealing and conflicts of interest. Edison Group does not conduct any investment business and, accordingly, does not itself hold any positions in the securities mentioned in this report. However, the respective directors, officers, employees and contractors of Edison may have a position in any or related securities mentioned in this report, subject to Edison's policies on personal dealing and conflicts of interest.

Copyright: Copyright 2022 Edison Investment Research Limited (Edison).

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Edison Investment Research Pty Ltd (Edison AU) is the Australian subsidiary of Edison. Edison AU is a Corporate Authorised Representative (1252501) of Crown Wealth Group Pty Ltd who holds an Australian Financial Services Licence (Number: 494274). This research is issued in Australia by Edison AU and any access to it, is intended only for "wholesale clients" within the meaning of the Corporations Act 2001 of Australia. Any advice given by Edison AU is general advice only and does not take into account your personal circumstances, needs or objectives. You should, before acting on this advice, consider the appropriateness of the advice, having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. If our advice relates to the acquisition, or possible acquisition, of a particular financial product you should read any relevant Product Disclosure Statement or like instrument.

New Zealand

The research in this document is intended for New Zealand resident professional financial advisers or brokers (for use in their roles as financial advisers or brokers) and habitual investors who are “wholesale clients” for the purpose of the Financial Advisers Act 2008 (FAA) (as described in sections 5(c) (1)(a), (b) and (c) of the FAA). This is not a solicitation or inducement to buy, sell, subscribe, or underwrite any securities mentioned or in the topic of this document. For the purpose of the FAA, the content of this report is of a general nature, is intended as a source of general information only and is not intended to constitute a recommendation or opinion in relation to acquiring or disposing (including refraining from acquiring or disposing) of securities. The distribution of this document is not a “personalised service” and, to the extent that it contains any financial advice, is intended only as a “class service” provided by Edison within the meaning of the FAA (i.e. without taking into account the particular financial situation or goals of any person). As such, it should not be relied upon in making an investment decision.

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This document is prepared and provided by Edison for information purposes only and should not be construed as an offer or solicitation for investment in any securities mentioned or in the topic of this document. A marketing communication under FCA Rules, this document has not been prepared in accordance with the legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and is not subject to any prohibition on dealing ahead of the dissemination of investment research.

This Communication is being distributed in the United Kingdom and is directed only at (i) persons having professional experience in matters relating to investments, i.e. investment professionals within the meaning of Article 19(5) of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Financial Promotion) Order 2005, as amended (the "FPO") (ii) high net-worth companies, unincorporated associations or other bodies within the meaning of Article 49 of the FPO and (iii) persons to whom it is otherwise lawful to distribute it. The investment or investment activity to which this document relates is available only to such persons. It is not intended that this document be distributed or passed on, directly or indirectly, to any other class of persons and in any event and under no circumstances should persons of any other description rely on or act upon the contents of this document.

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Edison relies upon the "publishers' exclusion" from the definition of investment adviser under Section 202(a)(11) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and corresponding state securities laws. This report is a bona fide publication of general and regular circulation offering impersonal investment-related advice, not tailored to a specific investment portfolio or the needs of current and/or prospective subscribers. As such, Edison does not offer or provide personal advice and the research provided is for informational purposes only. No mention of a particular security in this report constitutes a recommendation to buy, sell or hold that or any security, or that any particular security, portfolio of securities, transaction or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person.

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Frankfurt +49 (0)69 78 8076 960

Schumannstrasse 34b

60325 Frankfurt

Germany

London +44 (0)20 3077 5700

280 High Holborn

London, WC1V 7EE

United Kingdom

New York +1 646 653 7026

1185 Avenue of the Americas

3rd Floor, New York, NY 10036

United States of America

Sydney +61 (0)2 8249 8342

Level 4, Office 1205

95 Pitt Street, Sydney

NSW 2000, Australia

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