Munich/ Berlin, March 25, 2019 –
- Strong revenue growth of 12.5% to EUR 531.7 million
- Earnings growth outpaces revenue: Ordinary operating EBITDA up 15.3% to EUR 291.5 million
- Growth boost anticipated in the 2019 financial year: revenue growth ranging between 15% and 17% planned
“With an impressive power of innovation, the teams of ImmobilienScout24 and AutoScout24 have digitised the classifieds business over the last 20 years. Not only does that confirm the sustained success of our online marketplaces, but also the very favourable development of the newly created Scout24 Consumer Services Segments,” says Tobias Hartmann, CEO of Scout24 AG. “Together with our partners, we endeavour to cover transactions digitally and as fully as possible on our platforms and we continue to systematically work on implementing this market network approach. That will be reflected again in our 2019 financials. For instance, for the current financial year, we anticipate significant revenue growth of between 15% and 17%, coupled with persisting high profitability. We also expect an ordinary operating EBITDA margin of between 52% and 54%.”
FINANZCHECK.de likewise made a notable contribution to corporate growth in 2018. Without taking its acquisition into account, revenue in the 2018 financial year grew by 9.9% (reaching EUR 519.4 million after EUR 472.6 million in 2017). The Group’s ordinary operating EBITDA outpaced revenue, increasing 15.3% from EUR 252.8 million to EUR 291.5 million (EUR 293.5 million, excluding FINANZCHECK.de). Just as significant was the increase in the ordinary operating EBITDA margin, which climbed to 56.5% without taking into account FINANZCHECK.de (2017: 53.5%). The cash contribution increased by 14.4% and supports the Group’s sustainable financing and dividend policy. Net financial debt increased to EUR 746.2 million (31 December 2017: EUR 560.9 million) due to the acquisition of FINANZCHECK.de. As a result, the leverage ratio increased from 2.22 times ordinary operating EBITDA for the last twelve months to 2.56 times.
“When we went public in 2015, we announced that we would pursue a sustainable growth strategy – and we have demonstrated this yet again in the past financial year. As in previous years, we have fulfilled our forecast. In the 2018 financial year, we set new revenue and earnings records for the third consecutive time. Since 2015, we have thus increased Group Revenue by more than a third and ordinary operating EBITDA by more than half. Earnings per share has increased almost threefold. Despite high investment for growth, including several acquisitions, we have continuously serviced our debt and are distributing dividends. That is emphatic proof of our solid and sustainable growth track, along which the very successful 2018 financial year merely marks yet another milestone. The confirmation of the forecast for 2019 is testament to the continuity of the continued development,” says Christian Gisy, CFO of Scout24 AG.
Overview of financial indicators
The table below provides a detailed overview of the Group’s financial indicators for the fourth quarter and the financial year ended 31 December 2018.
Ordinary operating EBITDA margin, %
Capital expenditure (adjusted)
The complete consolidated financial statements and group management report for the 2018 financial year are available at https://report.scout24.com/.
Business performance and earnings of the Group
Scout24 remains on a growth track, once again achieving significant growth in external revenue of 12.5% to EUR 531.7 million in the 2018 financial year (2017: EUR 472.6 million). The positive development is driven by a number of factors, including strong growth in the ImmobilienScout24 (“IS24”) segment, particularly due to the improved monetisation potential captured as well as the further increase in the contractual customer base in the course of the financial year. Sustainable growth in the AutoScout24 (“AS24”) and Scout24 Consumer Services (“CS”) segments, mainly driven by the intensified monetisation of the services offering for users, has also contributed to the Group’s success. In the advertising sales area, Scout24 successfully defended its user reach as a leading digital marketer. Overall, on the back of its broad offering tailored to customers’ and users’ needs, Scout24 managed to further cement its position as a market network around the real estate and automotive sectors in Germany and Europe.
Owing to the positive development of business, the Group’s EBITDA improved by 10.5% to EUR 257.3 million (2017: EUR 232.8 million). That includes non-operating costs of EUR 34.2 million (previous year: EUR 20.2 million). These are mainly attributable to personnel expenses in connection with share-based payments and costs related to M&A activities as well as non-recurring expenses for reorganisation measures.
External revenue in the IS24 segment grew by 6.0% to EUR 250.0 million in the reporting period compared with EUR 235.9 million in 2017. Revenue growth from residential real estate partners was mainly driven by a better monetisation of the existing contractual customer base and the intensified marketing of the VIA product range. The contractual customer base grew year on year by about 10% (December 2017: 13,434; December 2018: 14,745), driven by low customer churn coupled with high customer regain and new acquisition rates. Average revenue per user (ARPU) per month for the contractual residential real estate partners won in the financial year 2018 is significantly below the ARPU for existing contractual residential real estate partners owing to the customer structure. As a result, ARPU from residential real estate partners (contractual) came to EUR 634, which was only 2.7% above the value for the previous year (2017: EUR 617) despite price adjustment measures and additional marketing of the VIA product range.
As expected, Revenue with Business Real Estate Partners showed a strong development since the previous year. This trend mainly reflects the improved monetisation of the customer base coupled with the additional marketing of products from the VIA product range. The ARPU of business real estate partners developed very favourably with growth of 13.9% (2018: EUR 1,567; 2017: EUR 1,376).
The number of listings compared with the closest competitor increased from 1.8 times as of the end of December 2017 to 1.9 times as of the end of December 2018. Based on the extensive offering of listings, IS24 was able to maintain its leading position in terms of traffic and user engagement. In 2018, the average number of sessions per month on the websites increased 7.4% to 87 million (2017: 81 million).
External revenue in the AS24 segment, increased once again substantially by 14.4% to EUR 181.5 million in the financial year 2018 compared with EUR 158.7 million in the financial year 2017. The sustained positive development is mainly attributable to growth in Revenue with Dealers, both in Germany and in other European Core Countries. Both revenue lines benefit from the successful implementation of price adjustments and the resulting improved monetisation of the customer base. Accordingly, AS24 reported an 18.3% increase in ARPU in Germany and of 17.3% in the European Core Countries (2018: EUR 251.9 and EUR 277.5 respectively; 2017: EUR 212.9 and EUR 237.3 respectively).
The number of partner dealers in Germany and in the European Core Countries declined year on year. This development is mainly due to the optimisation of the customer base in Germany with a sharper core focus of sales to medium-sized to large customers.
In 2018, AS24 recorded a consistently high number of listings in Germany, with more than one million listings per month (1.11 million listings on average compared with 1.18 million listings per month in the period from January to December 2017). AS24 thus continues to rank a very solid second in the German market. In addition, AS24 was able to defend its leading position measured by number of listings in the Core Countries Belgium (including Luxembourg), the Netherlands, Italy and Austria. The number of sessions via mobile devices increased thanks to the improved functionality by 9.8% compared with the previous year, bringing the percentage of sessions via mobile devices to 75.3% of total sessions in Germany in 2018, compared with 77.0% of total sessions in the other European Core Countries.
Scout24 Consumer Services (CS)
The segment generated external revenue of EUR 100.1 million in the financial year 2018, up 29.1% year on year (2017: EUR 77.6 million). Excluding FINANZCHECK.de, total revenue in the Scout24 Consumer Services segment came to EUR 87.8 million, which constitutes a 13.2% increase in revenue. This increase was mostly driven by Services Revenue and Revenue with Finance Partners.
With the acquisition of FINANZCHECK.de, Scout24 took an important strategic step in the third quarter of 2018. As a result, the Group can now stay in touch with users also after completing a transaction and offer them even more support with tailored offers throughout their consumer journey. The product-related integration in the Scout24 market network has already made good progress since the acquisition. From a financial perspective, FINANZCHECK.de made a contribution to revenue of EUR 12.3 million in the financial year 2018, thus slightly exceeding the forecast of roughly EUR 12 million.
The Management Board is confident that the dynamic development of business in the Scout24 Group will continue and intensify in 2019. It therefore expects Group Revenue to grow by between 15.0% and 17.0%. Adjusted for consolidation effects – i.e. taking into account the contribution of FINANZCHECK.de for the full year 2018 and excluding the contributions of the deconsolidated entities AS24 Spain and classmarkets – the percentage growth rate will range between the low to mid-teens. In view of further investment in the growth of FINANZCHECK.de, the Management Board anticipates an ordinary operating EBITDA margin ranging between 52.0% and 54.0%. Adjusted for consolidation effects, this corresponds to a low single-digit percentage increase in the margin, as the Group continues to benefit from the scalability of its business model and the resulting slower increase of the total cost base relative to revenue.
For the 2019 financial year, the Management Board currently expects non-operating costs of between EUR 25.0 million and EUR 27.0 million. Capital expenditure (adjusted) will reach roughly EUR 25.0 million.
With our leading digital marketplaces, ImmobilienScout24 and AutoScout24, in Germany and across Europe we are inspiring people to make their best decisions on finding a home and a car. More than 1,500 employees are working on the success of our products and services, putting the consumers' needs first in order to create a connected network for living and mobility. Scout24 AG is listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange (ISIN: DE000A12DM80, G24). For further information, please visit www.scout24.com, our Corporate Blog and Tech Blog, or follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.
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