Centaur Media — Flagship 4 showing their strengths

Centaur Media (LSE: CAU)

Currency in GBP

Last close As at 26/01/2023

GBP0.54

0.50 (0.93%)

Market capitalisation

GBP78m

Research: TMT

Centaur Media — Flagship 4 showing their strengths

Centaur has posted good H122 figures, with revenues ahead by 8% on H121 and an uplift in EBITDA margin from 12% to 17%, well on the way to achieving the 23% targeted within management’s MAP23 objectives. The emphasis on driving higher-quality revenues from premium content, marketing services and training and advisory is giving the group a resilient earnings base. High subscription renewal levels indicate the utility to clients, with continued investment in content and products ensuring that these stay relevant and value-adding. The half-year balance sheet net cash was £14.2m and the valuation remains at a marked discount to peers.

Fiona Orford-Williams

Written by

Fiona Orford-Williams

Director, TMT

TMT

Centaur Media

Flagship 4 showing their strengths

Half-year results

Media

20 July 2022

Price

45p

Market cap

£66m

Net cash at 30 June 2022 (£m)

14.2

Shares in issue

146.9m

Free float

90.3%

Code

CAU

Primary exchange

LSE

Secondary exchange

N/A

Share price performance

%

1m

3m

12m

Abs

(8.2)

(6.3)

11.1

Rel (local)

(11.3)

(1.6)

8.1

52-week high/low

58p

41p

Business description

Centaur Media is an international provider of business information, training and a specialist consultancy for the marketing and legal professions. Its Xeim and The Lawyer business units serve the marketing and legal sectors respectively and, across both, offer customers a wide range of products and services targeted at helping them add value.

Next events

Trading update

October 2022

Analysts

Fiona Orford-Williams

+44 (0)20 3077 5739

Max Hayes

+44 (0)20 3077 5700

Centaur Media is a research client of Edison Investment Research Limited

Centaur has posted good H122 figures, with revenues ahead by 8% on H121 and an uplift in EBITDA margin from 12% to 17%, well on the way to achieving the 23% targeted within management’s MAP23 objectives. The emphasis on driving higher-quality revenues from premium content, marketing services and training and advisory is giving the group a resilient earnings base. High subscription renewal levels indicate the utility to clients, with continued investment in content and products ensuring that these stay relevant and value-adding. The half-year balance sheet net cash was £14.2m and the valuation remains at a marked discount to peers.

Year end

Revenue (£m)

PBT*
(£m)

EPS*
(p)

DPS
(p)

P/E
(x)

Yield
(%)

12/20

32.4

(0.3)

0.2

0.5

225.0

1.1

12/21

39.1

3.0

1.9

1.0

24.3

2.2

12/22e

43.5

4.5

2.4

1.0

18.9

2.2

12/23e

47.0

7.0

3.4

1.4

13.2

3.1

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

Strong renewals and subscription revenues

The Flagship 4 (Econsultancy, Influencer Intelligence, MW Mini MBA and The Lawyer) made up 68% of group H122 revenues, up from 66% in H121. Renewal rates at Econsultancy are improving and subscription revenues were up 27% on H121, lifting overall revenues for the brand by 13%. The MW Mini MBA continues to grow in reputation and demand for its courses. The group is winning more larger and strategic pieces of business, with blue-chip clients, and should be less exposed than the agency sector to any advertising spend weakness through H122 and FY23. The Lawyer would have grown its revenues by more than the 6% posted had its major awards dinner not been rescheduled to H222, postponed from June due to transport strikes. Moved to July, it was very successful, with 1,200 attendees.

Forecasts broadly unchanged

The outlook for the full year is unchanged, with a second half weighting to revenues and profits, as usual, with the additional H2 boost from The Lawyer Awards. We have made no major change to our group level forecasts for FY22 and FY23 (although we have made some adjustments to the internal composition). Management’s objectives for FY23, as set in MAP23, of revenue of at least £45m and an adjusted EBITDA margin of at least 23% remain obtainable. Cash at the half year was a little better than we expected at £14.2m, with cash conversion at 125%.

Valuation: Continues to be well below peers

In common with many peers, Centaur’s share price dropped back in Q122, having performed very strongly in FY21, and has since traded in a fairly narrow range. Despite the scale of the recovery in financial performance and good growth prospects, the shares continue to trade at a marked discount to quoted B2B media peers on EV/EBITDA (averaged over FY21–23). If this discount were to close, the shares would be 77.1p (March: 76p), 71% above the current level.

Premium content proving its worth

Looking in a bit more detail at the divisional and activity splits, the provision of premium content is clearly helping to retain and attract clients in both the XEIM and The Lawyer segments. Training and Advisory within XEIM (the over-arching brand for the group’s businesses serving the marketing industry) is also performing strongly, with revenues up 22%. The MW Mini MBA continues to grow delegate numbers (+2% to over 3,300 across courses delivered in H122) and is also lifting yields as it focuses its efforts on returning clients.

Influencer Intelligence, where revenues are in Premium Content, had a particularly difficult time during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been rebuilding well, with better renewal rates in H221 translating into revenues up 12% in H122. Renewal rates have now increased to 86%, from 84% for FY21. Influencer marketing is now more firmly establishing as a line item in marketing budgets as an effective way to reach audiences sidestepped by more traditional media.

Generally, sensible price increases are sticking across the board and costs have been kept under control. The new business environment is demanding, but there is plenty of scope in the strategy of focusing on selling more services and products into the existing client base. This includes many large blue-chip clients, with substantial budgets.

Marketing Solutions remains a more difficult market and recruitment advertising continues to be subdued in both segments. However, Events is benefiting from the resumption of in-person gatherings, with The Lawyer Awards in July now having taken place and H122 having seen the first in-person Festival of Marketing since lockdown in March.

The Lawyer’s corporate subscription renewal rates of 113% are clearly very positive, but it is particularly encouraging that Signal, the service it set up last year to deliver in-depth strategic insight and market benchmarking, is also now going through its anniversary renewals strongly at over 100%.

Exhibit 1: Segmental performance H122

£m

H122 revenue

Underlying % change

Adjusted EBITDA

% change

Central costs

Total

% change

Adjusted EBITDA margin

XEIM

Premium Content

4.9

+15%

Marketing Services

1.6

-5%

Training & Advisory

6.7

+22%

Events

1.3

-14%

Marketing Solutions

1.4

-21%

Recruitment advertising

0.2

+84%

Xeim Total

16.1

9%

3.9

+63%

24%

The Lawyer

Premium Content

2.3

+19%

Events

0.5

+17%

Marketing Solutions

0.3

-38%

Recruitment advertising

0.6

-8%

The Lawyer Total

3.7

+6%

1.2

-8%

32%

Group Total

19.8

+8%

5.1

+38%

(1.7)

3.4

+55%

17%

Source: Centaur Media

Costs under control

Operating costs at XEIM in the half year were £13.3m, £0.2m down on H121, helping lift segmental adjusted EBITDA margin to 24% from 16% in H121. Timing was unflattering to the margin at The Lawyer, with the slippage of the awards and some additional personnel resourcing ahead of revenues resulting in a dip in adjusted EBITDA margin from 37% to 32%. We would expect this decline to reverse in H222. Central costs of £1.7m were up £0.2m on prior period.

Our full year forecasts are essentially unchanged with just a minor adjustment to FY22e revenue from £43.9m to £43.5m and EBITDA, EPS etc unchanged on our previous published figures, with net cash notching up from £15.2m to £15.3m. FY23e remain as before, with anticipated revenue growth of 8% and EBITDA margin matching the MAP23 management target of 23%.

Balance sheet remains strongly cash positive

Net cash (the group has no bank debt) was £14.2m at the end of the first half, which is a better position than we had anticipated. This is attributed to an increase in deferred income as the business shifts further towards recurring and subscription revenues and good control of debtors. With more larger contracts in the mix, there are more substantial sums being paid in, and May and June were particularly strong in this respect.

Cash conversion in H122 was 125% and our year-end projection of £15.3m may prove overly conservative. Internal investment in improving the client offering will continue, with the emphasis firmly on pursuing organic growth opportunities.

Management has announced a dividend of 0.5p for the first half and we continue to expect 1.0p for the full year.

Exhibit 2: Financial summary

£m

2019

2020

2021

2022e

2023e

Year end 31 December

IFRS

IFRS

IFRS

IFRS

IFRS

INCOME STATEMENT

Revenue

 

 

39.6

32.4

39.1

43.5

47.0

Other operating income

1.6

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

Cost of Sales

(9.4)

(7.3)

(10.9)

(12.4)

(12.4)

Gross Profit

30.2

25.1

28.3

31.1

34.6

EBITDA

 

 

4.0

3.8

6.4

8.1

10.8

Operating profit (before amort. and excepts.)

 

 

(1.2)

0.0

3.2

4.7

7.2

Amortisation of acquired intangibles

(2.5)

(1.5)

(1.1)

(0.5)

(0.1)

Exceptionals

(4.0)

(0.3)

0.0

0.0

0.0

Share-based payments

(0.1)

(0.5)

(0.5)

(0.7)

(1.0)

Reported operating profit/ loss

(7.8)

(2.3)

1.6

3.5

6.1

Net Interest

(0.3)

(0.3)

(0.3)

(0.3)

(0.2)

Profit Before Tax (norm)

 

 

(1.5)

(0.3)

3.0

4.5

7.0

Profit/ Loss Before Tax (reported)

 

 

(8.1)

(2.6)

1.4

3.2

5.9

Reported tax

0.6

0.9

0.1

(0.7)

(1.5)

Profit After Tax (norm)

(2.0)

0.3

2.8

3.6

5.3

Profit After Tax (reported)

(7.5)

(1.7)

1.4

2.5

4.5

Minority interests

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

Discontinued operations

9.4

(12.7)

0.0

0.0

0.0

Net income (normalised)

0.4

0.4

2.8

3.6

5.3

Net income (reported)

1.9

(14.4)

1.4

2.5

4.5

Average Number of Shares Outstanding (m)

143

144

145

147

147

EPS - normalised (p)

 

 

(1.4)

0.2

2.0

2.5

3.6

EPS - normalised fully diluted (p)

 

 

(1.4)

0.2

1.9

2.4

3.4

EPS - basic reported, continuing (p)

 

 

(5.3)

(1.2)

1.0

1.7

3.0

Dividend per share (p)

1.5

0.5

1.0

1.0

1.4

Revenue growth (%)

(2.5)

(15.6)

20.6

11.2

8.1

Gross Margin (%)

76.3

77.5

72.2

71.4

73.6

EBITDA (IFRS) Margin (%)

10.1

11.7

16.4

18.6

23.0

Normalised Operating Margin (%)

(3.0)

0.0

8.2

10.8

15.4

BALANCE SHEET

Fixed Assets

 

 

67.4

52.3

49.6

48.0

45.8

Intangible Assets

61.2

46.1

44.3

43.3

42.9

Tangible Assets

4.3

3.3

2.5

2.5

2.4

Deferred tax

1.4

2.4

2.5

1.7

(0.1)

Other receivables

0.5

0.5

0.3

0.5

0.5

Current Assets

 

 

19.7

14.3

19.3

21.9

25.9

Stocks

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

Debtors

10.3

5.8

6.1

6.4

6.4

Cash & cash equivalents

9.3

8.3

13.1

15.3

19.3

Other

0.1

0.2

0.2

0.2

0.2

Current Liabilities

 

 

(23.3)

(17.7)

(21.1)

(21.0)

(22.0)

Creditors

(12.5)

(8.7)

(11.4)

(9.7)

(9.9)

Tax and social security

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

Short term borrowings

0.0

0.0

(0.0)

(0.0)

(0.0)

Other/ Lease liabilities

(10.8)

(9.0)

(9.7)

(11.3)

(12.1)

Long Term Liabilities

 

 

(2.7)

(1.6)

(0.6)

(0.6)

(0.6)

Long term borrowings

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

Other long term liabilities, including leases

(2.7)

(1.6)

(0.6)

(0.6)

(0.6)

Net Assets

 

 

61.1

47.2

47.1

48.3

49.1

Minority interests

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

Shareholders' equity

 

 

61.1

47.2

47.1

48.3

49.1

CASH FLOW

Op Cash Flow before WC and tax

4.5

(0.0)

6.4

8.1

10.8

Working capital

2.1

(1.0)

3.2

(0.5)

1.0

Exceptional & other

(2.0)

3.1

(0.1)

(0.4)

(0.6)

Tax

0.1

0.0

0.0

0.0

(1.5)

Operating Cash Flow

 

 

4.7

2.1

9.5

7.2

9.7

Capex

(1.6)

(0.8)

(0.8)

(1.3)

(1.5)

Acquisitions/disposals

16.3

0.1

0.0

0.0

0.0

Net interest

(0.2)

(0.1)

(0.1)

(0.3)

(0.2)

Equity financing

(0.6)

0.0

(0.3)

(0.3)

(0.3)

Dividends

(7.1)

0.0

(1.4)

(1.5)

(2.1)

Other

(2.2)

(2.2)

(2.1)

(1.7)

(1.7)

Net Cash Flow

9.3

(1.0)

4.8

2.2

4.0

Opening net debt/(cash)

 

 

(0.1)

(9.3)

(8.3)

(13.1)

(15.3)

FX

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

Other non-cash movements

(0.1)

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

Closing net debt/(cash)

 

 

(9.3)

(8.3)

(13.1)

(15.3)

(19.3)

Source: Company accounts, Edison Investment Research

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This report has been commissioned by Centaur Media and prepared and issued by Edison, in consideration of a fee payable by Centaur Media. 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.

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New Zealand

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United Kingdom

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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

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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

General disclaimer and copyright

This report has been commissioned by Centaur Media and prepared and issued by Edison, in consideration of a fee payable by Centaur Media. 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).

Australia

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.

United Kingdom

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.

This Communication is being supplied to you solely for your information and may not be reproduced by, further distributed to or published in whole or in part by, any other person.

United States

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.

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

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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1Spatial — Flying high with a major EU aerospace company

1Spatial has announced a sizeable contract with a major European aerospace company worth circa €3m over five years. Notably, the deal is the first major win for the company’s new 1Telecomms solution (together with 1Integrate) supporting a win in the aerospace industry, a new vertical for the business. We believe that this provides evidence that the company’s development of app solutions can broaden the company’s addressable market. We believe that the broader market for geospatial solutions is set to deliver sustained double-digit growth and that 1Spatial’s is carving out an increasingly strong position within the market. We believe that the company’s current valuation (FY23e EV/sales 1.8x) does not reflect 1Spatial’s potential.

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