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Half year results 2014

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STV Group plc Half Year Results 2014
Half year results for the six months ended 30 June 2014

Commercially focused; creatively led

 
Financial Highlights H1 2014 H1 2013 Year on year
Revenue £54.7m £51.2m 7%
EBITDA £10.7m  £9.4m 14%
Operating Profit  £9.8m  £8.2m 20%
Pre-tax profit and IAS 19 interest  £8.4m  £6.7m 25%
Pre-tax profit  £8.4m  £6.2m 35%
EPS pre IAS 19 interest 18.7p 14.3p 31%
Statutory EPS 18.7p 13.2p 42%
Net debt £40.1m £43.4m  -8%

Highlights
  • Enhanced dividend policy announced with increase to planned level of interim dividend payment from 1.0 pence to 2.0 pence per share and an intended final 2014 dividend of 4.0 pence per share; making a total of 6.0 pence per share for the full year
  • Financial performance in line with forecasts and KPI performance in line with growth expectations
  • Robust balance sheet as net debt continues to reduce, down 8% at £40.1m, and on track to achieve net debt: EBITDA target of less than 1.5x for year end
  • Revenues up 7% to £54.7m with digital revenues up 16%
  • Operating profit up 20% at £9.8m
  • Profit before tax and IAS 19 up 25% at £8.4m 
Strategic Developments                                                                              
  • Continued progress towards achievement of 2015 strategic aims
  • City TV service, STV Glasgow, launched in June to strong audience ratings and positive response from advertisers and commercial partners. Launch of second service, STV Edinburgh, on track for January 2015
  • Pension valuation settlement based on reduced deficit recovery period agreed with trustees
  • Extension of bank facility until 2019 on improved terms and providing flexibility to support future growth strategy 
Rob Woodward, Chief Executive Officer, said: “Today’s results represent a strong performance at the half year with continuing progress towards our 2015 strategic aims. The enhanced dividend policy reflects the transformation of STV to a business that is well positioned to deliver sustainable growth and returning value to shareholders.”
  
28 August 2014
 

There will be a presentation for analysts at the offices of Peel Hunt, Moor House, 120 London Wall, London, EC2Y 5ET today at 12.30pm.  Should you wish to attend the presentation, please contact Katie Martin, STV (Tel:  0141 300 3000).
 
Enquiries:
 
STV Group plc
George Watt, Chief Financial Officer                                                
Tel: 0141 300 3049
 
Eleanor Marshall, PR & Communications Manager          
Tel: 0141 300 3670
 
Instinctif Partners
Kay Larsen                                                                                                   
Tel: 0207 457 2020
 
Financial performance
Performance during the first half of the year is strong and in line with forecasts against all key financial measures.
 
The Board is committed to the long-term delivery of increased shareholder returns and has further reviewed the dividend policy following the re-instatement of dividend payments for the 2013 full year.  It is planned that dividend payments will be increased over the next two years with an interim dividend payment of 2.0 pence per share confirmed today, payable in October, and an intended final dividend payment for 2014 of 4.0 pence per share, for a total of 6.0 pence per share. This represents a 200% increase on 2013 and a doubling from previous guidance.  We also plan to increase the dividend by a further 33% in 2015.
 
The balance sheet has continued to improve and, combined with strong cash generation, net debt has reduced by 8% at £40.1m, despite higher levels of capital investment and the normal seasonal working capital outflow during H1.  Revenue has increased by 7% to £54.7m and operating profit has increased by 20% to £9.8m, reflected in an increased margin performance of 17.9% for the Group.
 
In order to aid understanding, ‘ex-growth’ digital revenues are now included in ‘other’ revenues and all references to digital revenues and profit reflect only the ‘growth’ areas.
 
Operational Review
 
STV Consumer
The consumer business has performed strongly during the period reflecting improved advertising revenues and continued growth in digital activities.  Overall, consumer revenues are up 7% benefitting from the World Cup matches, with digital revenues continuing to perform strongly up 16% and in line with expectations.
 
Operating profit amounted to £10.9m, up 25% on last year, with a consequent increase in margins to 21.5%, up from 18.7% in the same period last year. Included in this total, digital operating profit grew by 20% to £0.5m, achieving a margin of 23% and on track for the 2014 target of 30%.
 
At the beginning of 2014, refreshed key performance indicator targets for the consumer business were confirmed to measure progress through to 2016. The new measures include increased focus on monitoring consumer reach and engagement across every platform within the STV family of services: STV; STV Player; City TV services; STV City Apps and stv.tv.
 
This increased focus by platform has been supported by a brand refresh of all of the consumer services to introduce a more cohesive relationship between each of these and support increased reach of the STV brand whilst underscoring the range of assets available to commercial partners to reach their target markets.
 
The core channel, STV, has continued to perform robustly achieving peak-time performance of 0.4 share points in excess of the Network.  The consistently high performance of STV is being used as a platform to maximise audience share and drive new revenues, supporting the growth and development of new services, particularly City TV.
 
The first of the City TV services, STV Glasgow, successfully launched in June to a positive audience reaction, reaching almost 650,000 viewers on average in the first two months, 33% of the available audience.  This secures a position as the 25th best watched commercial channel within its broadcast area.  The response from commercial partners has been positive with 60% of advertisers in the first three months representing new customers to STV, many of whom have committed to repeat bookings in Q3.  In addition to the interest from a new advertising base; existing STV clients, both direct and agency, have added STV Glasgow to bookings for Q3. Furthermore, the available audience data points to the channel reaching a new and younger profile than core channel, STV.
 
The early audience data also indicates effective cross-platform promotion is driving traffic to the STV Glasgow city app and the STV Player, with browsers to the Glasgow city app up 50% in June.  Monthly streams to the STV Player have increased by 14% year on year averaging over one million per month.
 
As the nature of the relationship with audiences across all services in the STV family continues to evolve and deepen, the acquisition of consumer insights is key to achieving stronger consumer engagement.  The KPI target is to achieve 0.8m insights by end of 2014, and 2.4m registered users by end of 2016, creating new opportunities for our commercial partners to address the Scottish market on a targeted basis whilst enhancing the experience of our consumers when enjoying STV services. This is on track and has been enhanced considerably by the successful launch of pre-registration on live streaming service, STV Live, during the World Cup, which has generated a 39% increase in registrations year on year.
 
In a year of unparalleled political significance for Scotland, the strong track record in delivering engaging public service content has placed STV at the heart of the debate on the referendum on independence for Scotland.  News and current affairs programming continues to receive widespread critical acclaim and has successfully created increased engagement and raised the profile of the STV brand across audience groups, through high quality programming and innovative use of technology and social media. As a result of this approach, over one quarter of visits to STV News sites are via social media and STV News is the most liked news Facebook page in Scotland.
 
Double digit growth in digital revenue has been maintained with an increase of 16% during H1 and is on track to maintain this rate of growth for the full year as the reach and engagement levels achieved across the STV family of services continue to grow.
 
As accessibility to STV content is now secured across a wide range of platforms, free at the point of consumption, the focus of the product development strategy in the next phase of growth is to continue to harness innovation to deliver a consumer experience with a content offering and guarantee of service as strong as the core broadcast business. Ensuring the availability of STV content reflects changes in consumption habits is also the aim of the development strategy.  This is being achieved with a 66% increase year on year in downloads of the STV Player app whilst engagement continues to increase with the average time spent by viewers of the STV Player increasing by 20% since last year.
 
Outlook
STV national airtime revenue was up 8% in H1, largely driven by the World Cup, and is expected to continue to perform in line with the market during Q3 with the cumulative forecast to the end of Q3 up 7% year on year.
 
The regional market was flat in H1 due to the dominance of national campaigns related to the World Cup during May and June.  The regional market continues to be more volatile than the national market with revenues down 9% in Q3 but up 35% in October, giving a cumulative forecast for the 10 month period of up 6% year on year.
 
Digital revenues are expected to continue to grow by 15%-20% year on year in Q3 and also maintain this rate for the full year.
 
STV Productions
The key aim of securing returning series commissions continues to be fulfilled.  Today the commission of 40 episodes of daytime quiz show, The Link, for BBC One has been announced following a successful run of 25 episodes during which the show ranked number one programme in this slot.
 
During the period re-commissions have been announced for a third series of Catchphrase (12 episodes, including two celebrity specials) for ITV; four series of Antiques Road Trip for BBC One (80 episodes) and a fourth series (20 episodes) of Celebrity Antiques Road Trip for BBC Two; and a second series of The Lie for both TV3 and STV.
 
Additionally, a one-off documentary for BBC1, Discovery Canada and the Smithsonian channel, Tutankhamun - The Boy Behind The Golden Mask, will be delivered this autumn.
 
Pensions
The 2012 triennial valuation was agreed with the trustees in July and provides forecasting certainty against a reduced recovery plan period of 11 years. Deficit funding payments of £5.5m will be made in 2014 and between £7.0m and £7.7m in 2015-2025.
 
The net surplus at 30 June 2014 on an IAS 19 basis increased to £5.3m from £1.3m at the 2013 year end due to asset value increases and planned deficit funding contributions.  The next triennial valuation will commence in January 2015 and in the meantime the Group continues to progress a programme of liability reduction measures in conjunction with the trustees of both defined benefit schemes.
 
Principal Risks and Uncertainties
This announcement contains certain statements that are or may be forward-looking with respect to the financial condition, results or operations and business of STV Group plc.  By their nature forward-looking statements involve risk and uncertainty because they relate to events and depend on circumstances that will occur in the future.
 
The Group set out in its 2013 Annual Report and Financial Statements the principal risks and uncertainties that could impact its performance.  These remain unchanged since the annual Report was published.  The Group has rigorous internal systems to identify, monitor and manage any risks to the business.  The principal risks identified are set out in detail on pages 29 and 30 of the 2014 Annual Report which is available on the STV Group plc website:  www.stvplc.tv
 
In August 2012 Scotland’s First Minister confirmed that should Scotland become an independent country, STV’s broadcasting licences would be honoured for their full duration through until December 2024.  In addition, the Scottish Culture Cabinet Secretary confirmed in November 2013 that the local TV licences covering Glasgow and Edinburgh would also be honoured for their full duration.
 
Basis of preparation
These condensed interim financial statements for the six months ended 30 June 2014 have been prepared in accordance with the Disclosure and Transparency Rules of the Financial Conduct Authority (previously the Financial Services Authority) and with IAS 34, ‘Interim financial reporting’, as adopted by the European Union. The condensed interim financial statements should be read in conjunction with the annual financial statements for the year ended 31 December 2013, which have been prepared in accordance with IFRSs as adopted by the European Union.
 
Going-concern basis
The group meets its day-to-day working capital requirements through its bank facilities. The current economic conditions continue to create uncertainty particularly over (a) the level of demand for the group’s products; and (b) the availability of bank finance for the foreseeable future. The group’s forecasts and projections, taking account of reasonably possible changes in trading performance, show that the group should be able to operate within the level of its current facilities. After making enquiries, the directors have a reasonable expectation that the group has adequate resources to continue in operational existence for the foreseeable future. The group therefore continues to adopt the going concern basis in preparing its condensed interim financial statements.
 
Statement of directors’ responsibilities
The directors’ confirm that these condensed interim financial statements have been prepared in accordance with International Accounting Standard 34, ‘Interim Financial Reporting’, as adopted by the European Union and that the interim management report includes a fair review of the information required by DTR 4.2.7 and DTR 4.2.8, namely:
 
a.    an indication of important events that have occurred during the first six months and their impact on the condensed set of financial statements, and a description of the principal risks and uncertainties for the remaining six months of the financial year; and
b.    material related-party transactions in the first six months and any material changes in the related-party transactions described in the last annual report.
 
The directors of STV Group plc are listed in the STV Group plc Annual Report for 31 December 2013, with the exception of the following change in the period: Christian Woolfenden was appointed on 1 June 2014. A list of current directors is maintained on the STV Group plc website: www.stvplc.tv

STV Group plc half year results 2014 Appendix

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