Today, the meeting of the Board of Directors of Arnoldo Mondadori Editore S.p.A., chaired by Marina Berlusconi, reviewed and approved the Interim Management Statement at 30 September 2020 presented by CEO Ernesto Mauri.
The year 2020 was inevitably marked by the effects of the health emergency brought by the spread of COVID-19.
In the first half of the year, in fact, the gradual and increasingly widespread application from March of restrictive measures to social and economic activities significantly curtailed most of the activities related to the businesses where the Mondadori Group operates as a leader.
In order to address this situation, the Group has implemented a series of actions aimed at ensuring working conditions in total safety for its employees, encouraging smart working, allowing the continuation of activities and the containment of operating costs, with the aim of offsetting the operating and financial impact from the measures adopted by the authorities.
Against this backdrop, the book market has shown solid resilience and a strong recovery:
- in the Trade segment, following the gradual reopening of bookstores in May, the segment has witnessed a steady recovery, growing by 8.4% in the third quarter versus the same period of 2019, reducing the loss to -3.8% versus the prior year.
- as far as school textbooks are concerned, the segment managed to come out almost unharmed from the lockdown, since the period in which the restrictive measures were in force was concurrent to the promotional phase of the texts to be adopted and subsequently marketed during the summer period.
PERFORMANCE IN THIRD QUARTER 2020
In light of the outlined context, the Group’s operating and financial profile in the third quarter of the year is as follows:
- revenue amounted to € 253 million, down by 9.3% versus € 279 million in the same period of 2019 (-7.9% on a like-for-like basis), recovering strongly versus the first half of the year, despite the failed restart of the activities that gravitate around the management of museums, exhibitions and cultural assets.
– revenue in the Books Area was down by 7%, but recovering sharply from the -21% drop in first half 2020, as the recovery in the Trade segment, whose revenue grew by 13% in the third quarter, and the positive performance of the adoption campaign for school textbooks only partly offset the negative trend in museum activities;
– revenue in the Retail Area decreased by approximately 5%, improving however from -27.5% in the first half of the year, a period impacted by the closure of bookstores for roughly two months, thanks to the recovery recorded by the book market from May.
– revenue in the Media Area posted a 20% loss (approximately -14% on a like-for-like basis in terms of titles), with digital activities in particular on the rise, up on a like-for-like basis by approximately 7% during the quarter.
- adjusted EBITDA (including the IFRS 16 effect), amounting to € 60 million versus € 61.6 million in the prior year, was basically steady, thanks to the targeted measures to support activities and contain costs implemented by the Group across all the business areas.
Mention should be made in this regard of the strong improvement in margins in the third quarter under review, which rose to 23.7%.
– the Books Area posted a result in the period that was € 5.8 million lower than the same quarter of the prior year, due largely to the difficulties reported by the museum business;
– the Retail Area, on the other hand, saw its performance increase by € 0.8 million versus third quarter 2019, thanks to the cost saving plan and the rationalization of the store and product portfolio;
– the Media Area equally recorded a significant improvement in margins (from € -1.4 million to € +2.1 million), thanks to the careful cost containment policy.
- the Group’s Net Result ended with a positive € 43 million, up by 72.2% versus € 25 million in the prior year, due partly to the write-back of Reworld Media shares held (€ 7.5 million) and the tax contribution from a tax receivable relating to the use of the “Patent box” (€ 5.5 million).
Cash flow from ordinary operations in the context of continuing operations over the last 12 months amounted to € 40.8 million versus € 36.7 million at 30 June, confirming the Group’s quick response and the ability of the business to steadily generate cash, even in a highly deteriorated context;
Net debt (no IFRS 16) stood at € -82.3 million at 30 September 2020, improving sharply versus € -110.4 million in the same period of 2019 (€ +28.1 million). Including the effects of the application of IFRS 16, net debt stands at € -170.4 million.
The gradual recovery of the business and the financial situation at the end of the third quarter, together with the Group’s medium-term outlook, provide reasons to maintain a positive attitude towards future developments, albeit in an economic scenario that is marked by the health emergency, and to be confident in the Group’s ability to continue to strengthen its capital and financial position.
CONSOLIDATED RESULTS AT 30.09.2020
In first nine months 2020, the Group’s consolidated revenue amounted to € 541.9 million, down by 17.8% versus € 658.9 million in the prior year (net of the changed scope of consolidation of the Media Area from the disposal of the five titles, the decrease would be approximately -16%, due basically to the effects of COVID-19).
Adjusted EBITDA in the period amounted to € 71 million, down by € 12.4 million versus first nine months 2019 (€ 83.4 million); this positive performance, the result of a trend in the third quarter basically in line with the prior year, reflects the significant effects of the quick response and countermeasures taken by the Group to tackle the consequences of COVID-19, which curbed the drop in revenue and reduced operating costs by approximately € 45 million.
Special mention should be made of profitability, equal to 13.1%, higher than the prior year and proof of the effectiveness of the operational efforts made by the Group.
EBITDA amounted to € 65.1 million versus € 78.4 million in the prior year, in line with the mentioned dynamics.
EBIT at 30 September 2020 amounted to € 28.9 million, down by € 21.2 million versus 30 September 2019, due mainly to the trend of the abovementioned components and to the extraordinary write-down and amortization of a number of titles for a total of € 7.8 million.
Consolidated profit before tax amounted to € 19.6 million versus € 41.5 million in first nine months 2019.
The Group’s net profit, after minority interests, came to € 18 million versus € 23.1 million in first nine months 2019 (which also included € 1.1 million from the discontinued operations of Mondadori France), a sharp upswing versus the first half of the year.
Group employees at 30 September 2020 amounted to 1,913 units, down by approximately 9% versus 2,092 units at 30 September 2019.
The positive performance recorded in the third quarter by all the Group’s businesses, despite the caution inevitably brought by the scenario of uncertainty arising from the pandemic and the potential impact on the Christmas season, increases confidence on exceeding the targets set by the Group when it had approved the half-year results.
Revenue and EBITDA
With revenue confirmed to fall as expected between 16% and 18% in the year in progress versus 2019 – current estimates on adjusted EBITDA show margins in the upper part of the previously forecast range, therefore equal to 12%, the result of the following trends that are expected to mark the business units:
- Trade Books: market on the upswing and profitability holding ground;
- School Textbooks: steady market and profitability basically steady;
- Museums: the business model and the cost-cutting measures aim at a substantial operating breakeven, despite the drastic drop in revenue;
- Retail: book market and physical channels on the upswing; the deep organizational and process review and the rationalization strategy on the portfolio of stores are expected to help profitability recover;
- Media: digital advertising market on the upswing and a positive, albeit declining, profitability.
Cash Flow and Net Financial Position
Additionally, with regard to the Group’s financial debt, one can reasonably expect the positive cash generation of the business to continue over the final months of the current year which, together with a lower estimate of restructuring requirements, will allow the Group to significantly reduce the net financial position at end 2020 versus the prior year.
PERFORMANCE OF BUSINESS AREAS
In the third quarter, the strong growth recorded by the Trade books market (+8.4% versus the same period of the prior year) produced a strong recovery, which reduced the overall decline to 3.8% at 30 September 2020 versus the prior year.
In the first nine months of the year, the Group placed 3 titles in the top ten bestsellers in terms of value, retaining its leadership with a 24.6% market share.
Subsequently, the Group strengthened the relevance of its publishing plan with the publication in September and October of titles by a number of bestselling authors, including the new novel by Ken Follett, ranking first in the top twenty bestsellers, where the Group holds seven positions.
In first nine months 2020, revenue in the Books Area amounted to € 316.1 million versus € 366 million in the same period of the prior year (-13.6%).
- revenue in the Trade Books segment totaled € 144.1 million, down by -6.8% versus € 154.6 million in 2019, due to the effects of the COVID-19 health emergency. Mention should be made of the 13% increase in the third quarter versus the same period of 2019, confirming the post lockdown recovery, due partly to the shift in the launch of a number of new titles following the reprogramming and revision of the publishing plan.
Revenue from e‐book and audiobook sales (approximately 8.6% of total publishing revenue) was up sharply in the lockdown period, closing the first nine months with a 29% increase versus the prior year, bucking the trend of sales of physical books.
- revenue in the Educational Books segment, amounting to € 167.4 million, was down by 18.6% versus € 205.7 million recorded in the same period of 2019, on a like-for-like basis net of the transfer of Electa’s trade books BU to Mondadori Libri S.p.A. in December 2019. The drop is attributable mainly to the museum segment, which had its operations severely impacted by the closure of sites and exhibitions owing to the measures to contain the pandemic, and by the virtual collapse of tourist travel also throughout the summer season.
In the school textbooks segment, mostly unscathed by the effects of the pandemic, the Mondadori Group’s publishing houses achieved a market share of 22.1%, up versus the prior year, confirming the positive results of the adoption campaign in 2020.
In first nine months 2020, adjusted EBITDA of the Books Area amounted to € 67.5 million versus € 78.6 million in 2019, down due mainly to the above negative trend in revenue from the museum activities.
EBIT amounted to € 55.8 million versus € 68.5 million in nine months 2019.
As mentioned, the Book market (over 80% of revenue in the Retail Area) recorded a minor fall in the first nine months (-3.8%) versus the same period of the prior year, due to the urgent measures that led to the closure of physical bookstores throughout the country from 12 March 2020 until the beginning of May.
The months following the reopening were particularly vibrant for the book market, which grew by 9.6% in the period from June to September.
Against this backdrop, Mondadori Retail’s market share stood at 11.7%.
In the first nine months, revenue in the Retail Area amounted to € 102 million versus € 126.6 million in the same period of the prior year (-19.4%), due to the abovementioned anti-COVID-19 measures.
In the third quarter, Mondadori Retail recorded an excellent performance: the decline in revenue versus the same period of the prior year amounted to -4.8% (-27.5% in first half), driven by the strong recovery in book sales, which were basically equal to the same period of 2019 (-0.6%).
In terms of sales channel performance, the third quarter saw strong results come from franchised bookstores and an improvement in the figures of directly-managed stores.
The online channel (15% of total revenue in the area) continued to grow, up by +48.8% at 30 September 2020.
Despite the steep drop in revenue, Mondadori Retail in the first nine months managed to curb the reduction in IFRS 16 adjusted EBITDA, which amounted to € -0.5 million versus € +0.8 million in the same period of 2019.
A result achieved thanks to careful cost management and a deep organizational and process revision carried out in the second half of 2019 and continued even during the harshest period of the health emergency.
With the exception of the lockdown months, Mondadori Retail showed a steady improvement in profitability throughout the year: in the months before lockdown, adjusted EBITDA was € 0.3 million higher than in the same period of 2019, while in the following months (June-September) the improvement amounted to € 1.6 million.
In the third quarter in particular, adjusted EBITDA increased by € 0.9 million versus the prior year to € 2.3 million.
IFRS 16 EBIT amounted to € -9.4 million (versus € -7.3 million at 30 September 2019).
In the August surveys, the advertising market recorded an overall drop of -22%, suffering heavily in all channels from the negative effects of the health emergency: magazines lost -40.1% and digital -9.2%. The digital channel alone recorded a remarkable turnaround in July and August, up by approximately 24% versus the same two-month period of 2019;
In terms of circulation, the Italian magazine market fell by -12.8%. In this context, the Mondadori Group’s market share stood at 24%.
At 30 September 2020, revenue in the Media Area amounted to € 144.1 million versus € 191.2 million in 2019 (-24.7%); net of the disposal in December 2019 of the five titles, the drop would be -19.1%.
In the third quarter alone, the drop in revenue was -19.9% (-14% on a like-for-like basis), with digital activities on a strong upswing, up on a like-for-like basis by approximately 7% in the quarter.
Specifically, in first nine months 2020:
- circulation revenue was down by -25%, due to both the disposal of the five titles and the COVID-19 impact (-15% net of discontinuity);
- revenue from add-on products fell by approximately -22% versus 2019, due partly to a different scheduling of planned releases (-20% net of the disposal of the five titles);
- advertising revenue fell by a total of approximately -37%; this is the form of revenue most affected by the ongoing health emergency, which has, among other things, led to the cancellation of an important event such as the Salone del Mobile and a reduction in proximity marketing solutions (AdKaora); net of the discontinuity of the scope, the fall would be -32%.
In the third quarter alone, against the persisting decline in sales linked to print media, revenue from digital advertising sales grew by over 7%, with this component now making for 56% of total advertising revenue.
In terms of digital activities, mention should be made that in the period under review, the Mondadori Group retained its position as the leading multimedia publisher in Italy, on the web with an 81% reach (32.4 million unique users in August) and in social media with an aggregate fan base of 34.5 million spread across 105 social profiles.
Adjusted EBITDA in the Media Area amounted to € 3.2 million, down by approximately € 2 million versus first nine months 2019 (€ 5.5 million).
The sharp drop in revenue was alleviated by the effective measures to contain operating costs, which curbed their negative impact on profitability.
In third quarter alone, Mondadori Media recorded adjusted EBITDA of € +1.2 million, improving significantly versus the result in the same period of 2019 (€ -1.4 million) thanks to the positive trend of digital advertising, the partial recovery of add-on sales, and the abovementioned cost containment measures.
EBIT amounted to € -9.5 million versus € -1.4 million, due mainly to the trend of the abovementioned components and to the extraordinary write-down and amortization of a number of titles for a total of € 7.8 million.
Additionally, the Board of Directors took note with regret of Ernesto Mauri’s decision to end his experience as CEO of the Mondadori Group by completing his term with the natural expiry of the company’s governing bodies and the approval of the financial statements scheduled in April 2021.
Mr. Mauri provided the reasons for his decision by explaining to the Board that he believes he has fulfilled the strong path of strategic re-launch and repositioning, marked by the financial recovery and solid results achieved, laying the foundations for the current Management – in total continuity – to push the Mondadori Group into a new phase of development.
In line with the strategic transformation that the Company has undergone in recent years, which has witnessed a gradual focus on its core business – Books – the Board of Directors, on the proposal of Chairman Marina Berlusconi, resolved to appoint Antonio Porro, current CEO of Mondadori Libri, as the future CEO of the Mondadori Group.
Mr. Porro’s nomination, in accordance with the outcome of the succession plan adopted by the Board of Directors, will be submitted to the Shareholders, who will submit the lists for the appointment of the new Board to the Shareholders’ Meeting next April.
SIGNIFICANT EVENTS AFTER FIRST NINE MONTHS 2020
On 14 October 2020, the Mondadori Group sold 8.5% of the share capital of Reworld Media. As a result of the transaction, the stake held in the French company is now 7.8%.
On 20 October 2020, the Mondadori Group completed the disposal of 25% of the share capital of Stile Italia Edizioni S.r.l. to La Verità, which already held the remaining 75%.
The documentation relating to the presentation of the results at 30 September 2020, is made available through the authorized storage mechanism 1Info (www.1info.it) and in the Investors section of the Company website www.gruppomondadori.it.
The Interim Management Statement at 30 September 2020 approved by the Board will be available at the Company’s registered office, on the authorized storage mechanism 1Info (www.1info.it) and on www.gruppomondadori.it (Investors section) on 11 November 2020.
The Financial Reporting Manager – Alessandro Franzosi – hereby declares, pursuant to Article 154 bis, paragraph 2, of the Consolidated Finance Law, that the accounting information contained herein corresponds to the Company’s records, books and accounting entries.
Annexes (in the pdf file):
- Consolidated balance sheet;
- Consolidated income statement;
- Consolidated income statement – III quarter;
- Group cash flow;
- Glossary of terms and alternative performance measures used.
 GFK, figures in terms of value, September 2020
 GFK, figures in terms of value, September 2020
GFK, September 2020 (ranking in terms of cover value)
 GFK, Week 40-42 2020 (ranking in terms of cover value)
 Product revenue excluding Club revenue
 GFK, September 2020 (in terms of value)
 Nielsen, cumulative figures at August 2020
 Internal source: Press-di, figures at August 2020 (newsstands + subscriptions channel) in terms of value
 Comscore (August 2020)
 Shareablee and internal processing (September 2020)