“LeoVegas has had a good start to the year – customer loyalty and the inflow of new customers has never been better!”– Gustaf Hagman, Group CEO
First quarter 2019: 1 January– 31 march 2019
- Revenue increased by 12% to EUR 86.3 m (77.4).
- Organic growth in local currencies was 4%.
- Organic growth in local currencies excluding the UK was 19%.
- EBITDA was EUR 7.2 m (9.5), corresponding to an EBITDA margin of 8.3% (12.3%).
- Net Gaming Revenue (NGR) from regulated markets was 50% (35%) of total NGR.
- The number of depositing customers was 370 209 (302 014), an increase of 23%.
- The number of returning depositing customers was 196 863 (155 951), an increase of 26%.
- Earnings per share were EUR 0.00 (0.02) before and after dilution.
Events during the quarter
- Sweden launched as a regulated market and the assessment is that LeoVegas is taking market shares.
- The Group’s Pixel.bet brand was granted a five-year license for casino and sports betting in Sweden.
- The Group is seeing positive effects of a pronounced internal focus on efficiency and cost control.
- LeoVegas launched its proprietary multibrand platform to further complement its brand portfolio.
- The new GoGoCasino brand was launched in the end of March and has been well-received.
- Strategic evaluation of LeoVentures continues. The portfolio company Authentic Gaming is growing strongly and achieved a positive result for the first time in March and is expected to continue generating profits.
Events after the end of the quarter
- Preliminary revenue in April amounted to EUR 30.5 m (29.1), representing growth of 5%.
- Richard Woodbridge, COO, and Avshalom Lazar, CCLO, has started their employment with the Group, while Mattias Wedar, CPTO, will assume his position during the second quarter. The new Group Management team is thereby complete.
- LeoVegas’ 2018 Annual Report published on www.leovegasgroup.com.
- LeoVegas Annual General Meeting to be held on 29 May 2019.
- Nomination Committee has presented its recommendation for the new Board of Directors. Per Brilioth, Barbara Canales Rivera and Patrik Rosén have declined re-election, while Fredrik Rüden has been nominated to be elected as a new director.
- 14 August 2019 set as new date for the second quarter interim report.
COMMENT FROM GUSTAF HAGMAN – GROUP CEO
Positive start to 2019
During the first quarter we once again delivered sequential growth and posted record performance on a number of key performance indicators. This, combined with the fact that our customer base is growing in a sound and sustainable way, has given us a good start to 2019. We are maintaining a high pace of expansion and innovation at the same time as we are focusing on cost efficiency and scalability in the Group. This makes us well positioned for a year of continued profitable growth.
First quarter results
Revenue during the first quarter amounted to EUR 86.3 m (77.4), an increase of 12%. Organic growth in local currencies was 4%. Growth during the first quarter continued to be affected by the regulatory tightening that took place in the UK last year. Excluding the UK, organic growth for the Group was 19%, which reflects stable underlying growth in general for the Group. In March we posted the highest revenue and in February the lowest revenue for the period.
EBITDA totalled EUR 7.2 m (9.5), corresponding to an EBITDA margin of 8.3% (12.3%). Our marketing investments remained at a high level during the first quarter, among other reasons to secure our leading position in Sweden. Royal Panda increased its pace of investment following a very low level of marketing during the preceding quarter. We paid EUR 11.5 m in gaming duties during the first quarter, which is an increase of EUR 4.3 m compared with the preceding quarter, which affected the operating margin for the period.
We are seeing positive effects from our highlighted focus on efficiency and cost control within the Group. We continue to work on renegotiating supplier agreements in gaming, payments and marketing, among other areas, where we are benefiting from our size and position as one of Europe’s leading casino operators. At the same time, we are continuously reviewing our internal operating costs and processes. The effects of this work are expected to begin showing gradually in 2019 in the form of increased scalability on a growing revenue base.
Sweden has now been regulated for a quarter. We are generally satisfied with our performance during the period, where we had record-high customer activity and believe to have taken market shares. Our organic revenue decreased by 16% during the first quarter, adjusted for currency movements, partly owing to short-term effects of the market’s regulation in January. At the same time our depositing customer base grew 23% compared with the same period a year ago. Revenue in Sweden during the quarter has been growing month on month, and this trend has continued into the second quarter.
The new regulation in Sweden entailed a number of changes for our customers and for the industry, resulting in short- as well as long-term effects. I’m referring in particular to changes in the customer experience, competition, gaming duties, and new marketing channels and payment solutions. As is always the case when a market becomes regulated, it will take some time for the industry and customers to adapt, and thereafter we expect a more stable and predictable market.
Regulation has sparked an intensive debate on the amount of marketing. We also agree that the volume right now is too high, which at the same time is natural in a recently regulated market in which new players, such as the state-run companies, are launching new products. Therefor we are working to diversify our marketing mix to other channels than commercial radio and TV, and we are conveying the responsible gaming message more in our advertising.
Over time, a regulated market tends to lead to fewer operators. We have already begun to see this trend, as smaller operators are now leaving or reducing their focus in Sweden. This means that the amount of marketing is gradually expected to decrease.
What makes it difficult for the industry to self-regulate is when the government urges operators to apply for licences only to shortly after consider major changes in the terms as soon as the licence system is in place. In this case it applies to marketing. We are now awaiting the findings of a study into how marketing is to be handled. The study is expected to be ready by October 2020, and we are looking forward to clearer guidelines. One should keep in mind that it is in the state’s interest to protect the licence system and its channelisation. The greatest benefit for licensed operators, who pay local taxes and adhere to local rules, is the ability to market themselves. A restriction of marketing opportunities would make it challenging to protect the channelisation.
The UK market remains challenging in the near term, but we are gradually making progress, and our customer acquisition is growing at Group level compared with the preceding quarter. In particular, the brands we have gathered under Rocket X are showing clear improvements, with sequential revenue growth paired with good profitability. Royal Panda, on the other hand, had a weaker quarter in the UK, partly coupled to the lower level of marketing in earlier quarters as well as necessary regulatory adaptations in line with the rest of the Group.
Our acquisitions in the UK have generally resulted in greater complexity coupled to synchronisation of databases, routines and processes between the different Group brands. To manage this in the best way and comply with the regulatory requirements, LeoVegas has an action plan that was initiated last year. LeoVegas takes compliance with the utmost seriousness and is working consistently to ensure a safe experience for our customers in all markets, all to uphold our position as a credible, long-term and reliable operator.
One market that stuck out during the first quarter is Germany, where we expect to be granted extended gaming licences in Schleswig-Holstein, which gives us a competitive advantage. Finland, Denmark and Canada also delivered good quarters, and in Italy we are taking market shares.
LeoVentures’ portfolio companies developed well during the period. The companies are in various phases of rapid growth and investment, but despite this, together they succeeded in making a positive contribution to EBITDA for the Group during the month of March. For the first time, the portfolio company Authentic Gaming also achieved a positive result in March, and it is expected to continue generating profits. In line with previous communication, we are continuing with our strategic evaluation of LeoVentures.
New brand on proprietary multibrand platform
During the quarter we launched our proprietary multibrand platform. Owing to our multibrand functionality, we can now flexibly launch and scale up new brands. The first such brand that was launched is called GoGoCasino. The start and customer response have been positive and are proof of how we are successfully capitalising on the Group’s strengths, experience and economies of scale. During the year we expect to launch GoGoCasino in more markets.
Comments on the second quarter
The month of April has developed well with preliminary revenue of EUR 30.5 m (29.1), representing a growth of 5%. Our current estimate is that marketing costs in relation to revenue will decrease during the second quarter compared with the first quarter.
LeoVegas has entered the second quarter with full focus on sustainable, profitable growth.
Presentation of the report – today at 09:00 CET
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This information is information that LeoVegas AB (publ) is obliged to make public pursuant to the EU Market Abuse Regulation 596/2014. The information was submitted for publication, through the agency of the contact person set out below, at 08:00 CET on May 2, 2019.
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About the LeoVegas mobile gaming group
LeoVegas’ passion is “Leading the way into the mobile future”. LeoVegas is the premier GameTech company and is at the forefront of using state-of-the-art technology for mobile gaming. A large part of this success can be credited to an extreme product and technology focus coupled with effective and data-driven marketing. Technology development is conducted in Sweden, while operations are based in Malta. LeoVegas offers casino, live casino and sports betting, and operates two global and scalable brands – LeoVegas and Royal Panda – as well as a number of local brands in the UK. LeoVegas is a global corporate group in which LeoVegas AB (publ.) is the parent company. LeoVegas AB (publ.) doesn ́t conduct any gaming operations. The operational work is carried out in the subsidiaries within the Group. The company’s shares are listed on Nasdaq Stockholm. For more about LeoVegas, visit www.leovegasgroup.com.
 Throughout this report, figures in parentheses pertain to the same period a year earlier.