Outdoor advertising company oOh! Media is confident the sector’s slow recovery is carrying into the new calendar year as chief executive Cathy O’Connor described its annual results as “robust”, reinstating a small dividend as it narrowed its full-year loss.
“The 2021 result in view of it being a COVID-affected year was a very robust result for us,” Ms O’Connor said.
She said the company’s earnings growth of 24 per cent to $77.6 million and revenue uplift of 18 per cent to $503.7 million was “proof of that fact that for the time throughout 2021 when we did have audience recovery we were able to convert that to a return to growth”.
“In aggregate across the year, the business has performed in a much improved way, relative to prior year. We’re happy with that,” she said.
The company’s loss narrowed to $10.3 million from the year-earlier $36.2 million and oOh! Media’s revenue reflected the continued recovery towards pre-COVID-19 revenue levels. Revenue for the year was at 78 per cent of 2019 revenue.
OOh! Media’s street furniture and rail, road, and retail formats drove revenue growth at the business, offsetting declines at its fly (air travel), locate (offices) and “other” categories.
The recovery in road, retail and street furniture formats, as well as in New Zealand, resulted in the categories accounting for 91 per cent of the organisation’s media revenue in CY21.
The group’s street furniture and rail format was the strongest performer in the portfolio, with revenue increasing 23 per cent to $182.1 million while road formats rose 34 per cent to $158.5 million.
Retail revenue increased 18 per cent to $125 million. OOh!’s road format for November and December 2021 was at record monthly levels, with retail revenue for December also up. Overall December revenue were at 94 per cent of December 2019.
OOh!Media’s fly segment continued to suffer from COVID-19-related restrictions on air travel, with revenue down 46 per cent to $12.2 million.
The locate business (digital ad signs in office spaces) was also affected by closures of office buildings and employees working from home because of COVID-19 restrictions, with revenue dropping 17 per cent to $11.8 million.
“As the mask mandates leave, we will see a gradual return of people to offices. We certainly saw it last year and I’m sure we’ll see it again this year,” Ms O’Connor said on the future of the office format.
“In terms of having our assets within the office towers we are pretty optimistic that it’s a high-value customer that we attract, and we’re looking at how else we can target those customers in the event that they may only be working in the office for days or three days moving ahead.”
Revenue contributions from Cactus Imaging and Junkee Media, which oOh! Media sold to RACAT Group in December, fell 15 per cent to $14.1 million.
oOh! Media pushed its net debt down by 32 per cent since June 30 to $64 million.
The company said the start of the new financial year has been strong, with revenue for the first quarter pacing at 15 per cent higher than a year earlier and at 93 per cent of Q1 2019.
“It shows that the recovery is carrying through this year which is really pleasing for us,” said Ms O’Connor.
“We also demonstrate that out of home is impacted by shifts in audience and when audiences recover so to does revenue and quite sharply so.”
Source: The Australian Financial Review.