Wanda Sports Group Company Limited (WSG) Q2 2020 Earnings Call Transcript

Image source: The Motley Fool. Hengming Yang — Chief Executive Officer Maybe, Brian, you want

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Q2 2020 Earnings Call
Sep 01, 2020, 8:00 a.m. ET” data-reactid=”24″>Wanda Sports Group Company Limited (NASDAQ: WSG)
Q2 2020 Earnings Call
Sep 01, 2020, 8:00 a.m. ET

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by and for joining Wanda Sports second-quarter 2020 earnings conference call. [Operator instructions] Today’s conference call is being recorded. If you have any objections, you may disconnect at this time. And I would like to turn the conference over to your host for today’s call, Ms.

Edith Kwan, head of investor relations at Wanda Sports. Please go ahead.

Thank you, Amber. Hello, everyone. Thanks for joining the second-quarter 2020 earnings call. With us today are Hengming Yang, chief executive officer of Wanda Sports; and Brian Liao, our chief financial officer.

A replay of the call will be available on our IR website later today. We have also posted a slide presentation on our IR website, which Brian will review during his remarks. Now let me quickly cover the safe harbor. Today’s discussion will contain forward-looking statements.

These forward-looking statements involve inherent risks and uncertainties that could cause our actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in the forward-looking statements, and consequently, could be affected by the uncertain and unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on our business and operations and the related impact on our liquidity needs. For detailed discussions of these risks and uncertainties, please refer to our earnings release, our annual report on Form 20-F for the year-ended December 31, 2019, filed with the SEC and available on the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov as well as future filings that we make from time to time. Any forward-looking statements that we make on this call are based on assumptions as of today, and we do not undertake any obligation to update these statements, except as required under applicable law. Please note that certain financial measures that we use on this call, such as adjusted EBITDA, are expressed on a non-IFRS basis.

Our IFRS results and reconciliation of IFRS to non-IFRS measures can be found in our earnings release. With that, I will now turn the call over to our CEO, Hengming Yang. Hengming, please proceed.

OK. Thank you, Edith, and thanks to everyone for joining us today. First, I hope you and your families are healthy and safe during the pandemic. I would also like to recognize and sincerely thank our people at Wanda Sports Group for their dedication and highly effective work as we respond to the profound challenges that have severely impacted the global community.

Turning to today’s call, and I will first review our second-quarter performance. Then I have some updates on our focused and disciplined actions in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. Let me start with the second-quarter results. I would like to remind you that given the sale of The IRONMAN Group closed in July, we still treated The IRONMAN Group in the second quarter as an asset held for sale and its historical results are reflected as discontinued operations.

As expected, second-quarter 2020 was probably the most challenging operating environment in the history of our company, as we were affected for this entire quarter by the pandemic and the impact on the global economy. Nevertheless, we still delivered total revenue of EUR 51.8 million and adjusted EBITDA of EUR 17.9 million. Despite the postponement or cancellation of most every sport event worldwide in the second quarter, I’m proud to report a number of achievements and business wins in maintaining our diversified portfolio and expanding the priorities in serving clients while undertaking structural cost reductions. As for the highlights for our Spectator Sports business, several delayed football events were successfully completed after a relatively long period of lockdown, including the return of German Bundesliga, the semi finals and the final of DFB-Pokal, which is a German cup, as well as the Lega Serie A matches with the Coppa Italia Coca Cola final.

Although these games were primarily played behind closed doors with no spectators, we served as media and our marketing partner in the broadening environment with the clients. The Coppa Italia Coca Cola final celebrated a broadcast reach of over 10 million viewers with the match distributed to almost 220 territories globally. In respect of major commercial contracts and extension of long-term partnerships, we extended for another three years our agreement with the German Ice Hockey Federation for exclusive media and marketing rights. We also extended exclusive international media rights partnerships with the Czech Republic and Norway Ski Federations for five years.

Furthermore, Finland Biathlon extended its long-running agreement with us for exclusive marketing rights until the 2029/2030 season. For facilitated sponsorships, we successfully brokered several commercial agreements with recognized brands, including Nike and the Top 14 Rugby club named Stade Toulousain, LGT and the World Curling Federation, Hörmann and International Biathlon Union. In terms of new business wins, we remain positive about our pipeline of opportunities as we became the exclusive media rights partner with the broadcaster Pragosport, covering 15 media properties for a period up to 2028. We also completed an exclusive marketing and sales agreement with Besiktas Sports Club, one of the Turkey’s top football, basketball, volleyball, handball and esports clubs for 2021 to 2024.

In addition, we signed media agreements with Scottish Premier Football League in over 30 countries for three years. We see these accomplishments in second quarter as a strong testament to our operational excellence and our differentiated capabilities to stay ahead of the curve for our clients and partners. So next, our DPSS business continued to adopt leading technology, which plays an ever-increasing part of the daily operations of ours and our clients. In the second quarter, we delivered a number of virtual events, and including the International Ice Hockey Federation’s esports digital championship tournament, online esports matches for Italian Football League’s eSerie A TIM clubs and virtual overlays for the Coppa Italia Coca Cola football final.

Following our recent success in partnering with Verizon to launch a new 5G-based in-stadium experience which allows fans equipped with a 5G device to enjoy multicamera live and on-demand streams of the game, we have further reached the agreement with Verizon on four separate deals to continue to bring more thrill and excitement to the outside experience for the games, including NBA, the NASCAR and so forth. Furthermore, we are experiencing heightened demand for marketing technology and content data management, as evidenced by these various projects mandated by the Professional Golf Tour, English Premier League club Chelsea Football Club, Badminton World Federation and Activision Blizzard. In addition, we renewed the contract with France Ligue Football Professional for the next four seasons. We were also awarded the Outstanding Production Achievement-Event for its production of the Rugby World Cup Japan 2019 by the Sports Video Group Europe TV, one of the most prestigious bodies for the sports broadcasting and production across Europe.

For this award, we set new standards in rugby broadcast production with the first 8K production, the use of augmented reality graphics and Hawk-Eye Smart Replay technology. And so, now turning to our Mass Participation business. Not surprisingly, as the pandemic spread across the globe, all Mass Participations sport events were canceled or postponed in the second quarter but we successfully have launched a few virtual events, including the online HYROX fitness competition, which attracted 5,000 participants from 50 — 51 countries and a virtual long-distance hiking challenge. Our advanced digital technology-enabled us to continue to engage and connect with diverse athletes and spectators from multiple markets globally regardless of the COVID-19 crisis.

As this experience demonstrates the COVID-19 situation actually inspired new, innovative formats that could become a complementary, commercially viable Mass Participation event going forward. For our China business, unfortunately, almost all sport events in China also were canceled and postponed in the second quarter as a result of the pandemic disruptions. However, we remain confident of the significant opportunities in the China market, and we’ll continue to prepare our team to expand premium sport events in the future. Now let me provide some updates on how we see the impact on us of the current environment.

In addressing the COVID-19 disruptions, we were very fortunate that due to the immediate implementation of remote working protocols, all of our employees were safe. But as part of our cost reduction efforts in aligning staff level with the client demand, we made the difficult decision to decrease headcount by about 13% compared to the beginning of 2020. Our other priority of planning with our partners and clients for the safe assumption of sport events led us to join as one of the founding members the #Sport4Recovery initiative, which launched an international campaign to encourage policymakers to safely reopen organized events. In addition to communicating with policymakers, this campaign aims to collaborate with the scientific community for necessary measures such as testing, social distancing, defined hygiene measures as well as monitoring and tracking protocols sanctioned by government authorities.

In our Spectator Sports segment, due to the slow and cautious reopening of football, our 2019/’20 season was delayed into the third quarter, with the DFB Cup final taking place early July behind closed doors. The Italy Serie A was completed in August with all games played. We are looking forward to other leagues and clubs gradually resuming with the 2020/’21 season scheduled to start in September. Now, regarding summer sports events, some postponed events are gradually being rescheduled.

For example, the FIM MXGP Motocross World Championship resumed in August through with fewer races. The Badminton World Federation World Tour finals and Women’s European Handball Federation EURO championship 2020 are also tentatively expected to take place in December of this year. In addition, we remain hopeful for our upcoming winter sports season, including the FIS World Cup and IBU World Cup, but the visibility is still relatively limited. Our current plan is to continue to prepare our team for this season, and we will provide the update at an appropriate time as the year progresses.

Our DPSS business has been impacted by lack of events during the pandemic as well as intra-year cyclicality from the FIFA Women’s World Cup, which was held in 2019, but not this year. Once sports events resume, such as the delayed French Open at Roland Garros, we believe we are very well positioned to serve our clients in digital transformation services and data-driven solutions. While we continue to focus on our long-term strategy in building a leading global sports events, media and marketing platform, I would like to provide some updates since our last call our near to some midterm initiatives related to facing the pandemic crisis. These initiatives, we hope will be a key driver in enabling us to emerge from the pandemic even stronger.

First, we have made great progress in resolving contractual issues with our partners in a fair and straightforward manner, as evidenced by the prolongation and new commercial contracts signed in the second quarter. We appreciate the value of our long-term partners, and we’ll continue to collaborate effectively in achieving long-term objectives for all parties. Secondly, we continue to be at the forefront of the industry as we accelerate the pursuit of innovative content and digital initiatives. Some examples which include the International Ice Hockey Federation virtual world championship and a newly developed digital ecosystem for European Handball Federation in the second quarter.

The — these were outstanding team efforts and demonstrated our ability in this new virtual world to bring together the best marketing intelligence, media strategy, creativity and advanced technology for our clients. Finally, our cost containment and liquidity protection efforts continue as we attempt to manage our operating expense by addressing the reality of current macroeconomic situation, while maintaining well positioned for every — for revenue growth when markets rebound. In summary, while this macroeconomic environment is challenging, we are confident in our solid business fundamentals, namely our core global resources and capabilities. Our performance so far in the first half of 2020 demonstrated the trust of the long-term commercial clients as well as the confidence of our new business partners, especially as overall spending in our market tightens.

We will continue to deepen our engagement with clients and partners and — as we support each other in navigating the unprecedented disruptions. Now I would like to invite our CFO, Brian Liao, to shed more light on — some highlights on the quarter two financials. Brian, please?

Thank you, Hengming. Hello, everyone. I would like to also take a moment to wish that all of you and your family stay safe and healthy. Before I start the second-quarter discussion, I would like to make a few comments.

First, as Hengming just mentioned, we are intently focused on aligning our business model to the reality of the current economic environment while also preparing, with the full support of our clients, for the recovery of the industry. We have ongoing reviews to streamline our business operation to create a leaner organization with a greatest flexibility that will continue to be highly focused on delivering value for all stakeholders. For the short term, these reviews result in tremendous cost savings, which in large part are aimed at offsetting the decline in revenue in order to protect our profitability. For the mid- to longer term, we are focused on realizing our full potential to achieve a sustainable and healthy base for some future opportunities.

Next, as the closing of IRONMAN sale was completed in July, for the second quarter, in accordance with accounting rules, we have adjusted our reporting to exclude the IRONMAN business and treat it as an asset held for sale under discontinued operations. IRONMAN’s results and operating data also have been excluded from the comparative second-quarter 2019 results and operations data as well. Unless otherwise indicated, the financial statement line items and non-IFRS financial measures are reported on a continuing operation basis. And now for the second-quarter financial reviews, you may follow my remarks in the earnings conference call presentation on our website.

If you turn to Slide No.6. For the second quarter of 2020, our total revenue was EUR 51.8 million. The decline of 75% year over year was mainly due to postponement or the cancellations of almost all events due to the pandemic during the quarter. Gross profit was EUR 34.5 million, representing a smaller decrease of 55% year over year relative to revenue.

Effectively, this resulted in an overall gross margin improvement of 67% for the second quarter, compared to 36% in the same period in 2019. The primary reason for the margin enhancement is the increased revenue contribution from the commission-based model for our football business. Now let’s go to Slide No.7. The net profit for Q2 2020 was EUR 5.5 million, with margin enhancement and rigorous operating cost reduction partially offsetting the significant revenue decline.

Our adjusted EBITDA was EUR 20.9 million. Next, I will provide a detailed review of our three segments, starting with Spectator Sports on Slide No.10. Revenue was EUR 38.4 million, a decrease of 72% year over year, mainly due to multiple key events cancellations or postponements such as IIHF and Italian football. Thanks to the gradual restart of 2019/2020 football season in May and June, Italian and German football were the main drivers of the revenue for Spectator Sports in the second quarter.

Compared to the revenue of Spectator Sports gross profit decreased 48% year over year, representing an improved gross margin of 76%, compared to 40% of last year. The high gross margin was attributable to the commission-based revenue model driven by football. Looking at the DPSS segment on Slide No.12. DPSS revenue was EUR 13.1 million, a decrease of 76% year over year.

DPSS revenue, excluding reimbursement revenues, was EUR 12.7 million, representing a decline of 53% annually. This DPSS revenue decline is primarily driven by cyclicality effect as the Women’s FIFA World Cup took place in 2019. Also, events cancellations and postponements in the second quarter also dampened the production revenue for the quarter. Gross profit for this segment was EUR 6 million, a decrease of 54% year over year, but representing an increased gross margin of 46%, compared to 24% for this period of 2019.

This, again, reflects the continued market attractiveness of our innovative DPSS solutions. Lastly, for our Mass Participation segment on Slide No.14. In second-quarter 2020, our Mass Participation revenue is close to nil, mainly attributable to the full shutdown of all events during the quarter. Now let’s move to Slide No.16 on liquidity and capex.

As of June 30, 2020, we had a strong liquidity position with cash and cash equivalents of EUR 167.5 million from continuing operations. As of July 31, 2020, post the completion of The IRONMAN Group sale, the company had the total cash and cash equivalents of EUR 208.7 million. This extra liquidity further optimizes our capital structure and strengthens our balance sheet with greater financial flexibility to navigate the maze and to emerge stronger from COVID-19 disruptions. As for the balance of the cash and the IRONMAN sale proceeds, in light of the many and significant uncertainties we and the broader sports ecosystem face due to the COVID-19 disruptions, we continue to evaluate whether we should apply the proceeds for general corporation purpose or, subject to shareholders’ approval, return capital to our shareholders.

Our second-quarter capex for continuing operations was EUR 0.6 million, much less than the corresponding quarter in 2019. In the following Slide No.17, on general expenditure. In addition to capex, for the second quarter, each of our principal expenses categories decreased a lot, including personnel expenses, which declined by 17% year over year; selling, office and administrative expenses, which decreased by 51.3% year over year as well as our finance cost, which declined by 15.5% year over year. These are strong testaments to the successful execution of our cost-saving plans.

We believe this provides us with a solid cash position and sustainable operations in the current environment. I would also note that as always, we are committed to being very disciplined and prudent in capital management in order to preserve our financial position and minimize the overall pandemic impact on our business. Let me conclude on Slide 18 and 19. Given the continued uncertainty related to the COVID-19 crisis, we are not able to provide 2020 guidance.

We will reconsider providing guidance once the environment stabilized. Having also said that, I would like to share with you on Slide 18 that we used a part of the proceeds from the sale of IRONMAN Group to repay WSG’s debt. As a result, as of July 31, our total indebtedness declined to approximately EUR 473 million from EUR 685 million, and our associated net interest expenses are EUR 6.7 million for the second quarter of 2020, which is EUR 8 million lower than the same period in 2019. We expect the net interest expenses remain lower for the rest of the year.

Finally, before I conclude, I would like to mention that, typically, we do experience some seasonality in Spectator Sports segment, because the revenue tends to be lower in the third quarter as our winter sports event have not yet commenced, and there is less activities in European football compared with other quarters, especially now during the pandemic. Our 2020 and 2021 European football season is going to experience a delayed start in the upcoming third quarter to September. And so in conclusion, our diversified portfolio and long-term client relations have enabled us to achieve a solid financial basis in the first half of 2020 despite the postponements and cancellations of most events as evidenced by our prolongation and new business wins. Looking ahead, while visibility is still limited, we are seizing opportunities to improve the economics of our business model by adjusting operations quickly and optimally for enhanced competitive advantage, continuing to deliver outstanding services to our clients, focusing on some investments in talent, technology and differentiated capabilities that will better position us for growth in the longer term.

This now concludes our prepared remarks. Operator, we would like now to open the call for questions. Thanks.

Questions & Answers:

[Operator instructions] Our first question comes from the line of Bryan Kraft from Deutsche Bank. Please go ahead.

Hi. Good morning. I wanted to ask you a couple of questions. I guess, first, can you just help us understand the impact to net debt and cash from the IRONMAN sale a little bit better? I thought the purchase price was around $700 million but I think net debt only changed by now EUR 260 million.

So I’m just trying to understand that gap there. And then I know the visibility is limited and you’re not providing guidance as a result, but can you just talk qualitatively about the relative size of the impact you expect in Spectator Sports and DPSS at least at this point in time, from the lift in 3Q from timing shifts of events from 2Q into 3Q? And then the negative impact from the cancellations and other losses of revenue from things that are maybe more related to people actually attending the events. It seems like there’s some some positive impacts and negative impacts in the third quarter. And just wanted to take your temperature on, at this point, what you think the size of those negative and positives are going to be in aggregate.


Maybe, Brian, you want to pick up the cash-heavy question?

Yes. For the IRONMAN sale, the price was $730 million but we do have net debt. I think it was around, for IRONMAN Group, is around $290 million and with some net working capital adjustment. So the gap majorly come from this net debt and the net working capital adjustment.

OK. All right. Can you help us understand [Inaudible] that net working capital adjustment once?

Sorry. Can you say that again, Bryan?

So there was a pretty large working capital adjustment, you’re saying, and that’s what drives the difference.

I don’t think that it is a too big net working capital adjustment. I think our net proceeds is around $390 million to $430 million. So the major adjustment really come from net debt. And the net working capital adjustment, mainly about the timing from we signed the SPA in March and we closed in July.

So the delta of the working capital change, that won’t be huge.

OK. Thanks.

So, Bryan, regarding your second question from qualitative impact on the third quarter and remaining year, I think that — as you know, we said a lot of things will still be dependent upon the — when and how those events will be resumed. So that’s why we’re difficult, actually, give a straightforward view on what the year looks like. Third quarter traditionally is a low season because of the clubs are — the leagues are actually at holiday. It’s low season traditionally.

So we will expect third quarter will be a low season, coupling with this impact of pandemic. If the events we foresee that are coming back after the second season, which is actually the season for 2020-2021, and summer sports, if we anticipate the schedule coming back in the fourth quarter, I think we — fourth quarter will be better than third quarter, but that’s all dependent on the events we anticipate that are coming back.

OK. Thank you.


Thank you. Our next question comes from the line of Alan Gould from Loop Capital. Please go ahead.

Hi, there. Thank you. Let me just follow up on Bryan’s question a little bit on the net debt. So net debt at June 30th was EUR 518 million and July 31st, pro forma, is EUR 264 million.

So it’s a EUR 254 million improvement. And I was saying that the net proceeds was about EUR 350 million. So I’m just trying to figure out what the difference is there.

So by end of July 31st, right?


So what’s your calculation was — can you say that again, Alan? The [Inaudible]

Sure. Yes. So the net debt was EUR 518 million at June 30th and EUR 264 million at July 31st based on the slides. So that’s an improvement of EUR 254 million.

And the big difference between June 30th and July 31st, of course, is the sale of IRONMAN and I thought that was about a EUR 360 million proceeds.

I think two reasons, probably. One is we repaid the CS loan and the interest. I don’t believe you count this, right? This is about EUR 200 million. And also, we pay off the shareholder loan, $54 million.

Shareholder loan, was that — was the shareholder loan previously something you consider part of interest-bearing indebtedness?

No, I don’t think so. That’s a promissory note.

OK. That’s probably the biggest difference there. OK. And then the second and related question, is the EUR 473 million of Infront debt, it looks like it’s classified as short-term debt.

Can you tell us when that is — when that matures?


Your Infront debt, it’s classified as short-term debt. So I assume it matures in less than 12 months?

Because it is due to — [Foreign language]


Less than 12 months, right?

Yes, yes, yes. The facility, it is a term loan, but the due date is 2021, June 2021. So less than 12 months. So from an accounting perspective, it was reclassified to short-term loan, but we are planning to have a refi starting this — later this year.

OK. And I know you’re talking about using some of the net proceeds from the IRONMAN deal as a return of capital to shareholders. Have you given any — what is your thoughts on what the proper leverage ratio going forward on the company should be? What sort of debt to EBITDA?

We have not really decided yet, given the uncertainty, but we are still reviewing and researching what’s the best way, whether we keep this proceeds, net proceeds for general corporate business purpose or return to the shareholder. So it is not decided yet, given the uncertainty of the pandemic environment.

OK. And then my last question. You’ve had a number of contract wins, some contract extensions. Sure, there’s also a few contract losses that come up.

Do you have any sort of a backlog number or a way that we can just look at one number to see how the trend is going?

Sorry. Can you repeat your question? We did not get your meaning.

Sure, Hengming. Yes, so you’ve had a number of contract wins and contract extensions. I was wondering if you have some sort of a backlog number, what your total contract future revenue stands, the backlogs.

It’s not by handy, but I think we may get off — back to you off-line.

OK. Thank you.

OK. But I think, as you said, we have contract wins. There will be certain contracts starting, coming up. We are still working on for the renewal. And that’s like major ones like Lega Serie A, which is coming up, FIFA.

Fortunately, media rights [Inaudible] media production is coming up. Yes. So let’s get off-line, and we’ll get back to you.

OK. Thank you.

Thank you. [Operator instructions] If there no further questions, I’d like to invite Mr. Yang for his closing remarks.

OK. Well, thank you, everybody, for joining us today on the call, and we appreciate your interest in Wanda Sports Group and your insightful questions. And we look forward to continuing our conversation with you, our investor community. So thank you, again.

[Operator signoff]

Call participants:

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