November brought a more favourable atmosphere for iGaming companies in the stock market.
After a challenging September and October, several companies experienced significant boosts in stock value.
US operator DraftKings took the lead among gambling stocks, GAN soared following an acquisition deal, and Acroud stood out by defying prevailing market trends.
DraftKings emerged as the top performer among operators, witnessing a 38.8% increase in stock value, from $27.6 on 31 October to $38.3 on 30 November.
Over the past six months, DraftKings’ stock rose by 63.7%, marking a stellar run for the company.
Additionally, its year-to-date stock gain stands at a staggering 236.3%.
In Q3 2023, DraftKings generated a 57% year-on-year revenue increase to $790m in Q3 2023 – and overtook FanDuel as the US online gambling market leader by GGR.
November also saw DraftKings hold its virtual investor day and share additional insight.
CEO Jason Robins said he believes the company had secured the top spot due to a variety of factors, the most important being the development of a market-leading product.
He emphasised the importance of having top-notch technology and affirmed that the operator wouldn’t ease off on development in this area.
He described the DraftKings product as “extremely strong” and said the firm’s competitive differentiation advantage was both “real and sustainable”.
DraftKings revised its full-year revenue guidance to a range of $3.67bn to $3.72bn, up from the earlier guidance of $3.46bn to $3.54bn.
Looking ahead, the company projected 2024 revenue between $4.5bn and $4.8bn, with anticipated growth in subsequent years.
DraftKings’ long-term forecast also showed promising figures, expecting revenue in the mid-$5bn range for 2025 and a further surge to $7.1bn in 2028.
After a strong showing in Q3, alongside an optimistic outlook for 2024 and beyond, several analysts think DraftKing’s stock is primed for sustained expansion over the long run, despite appearing reasonably priced in the short term.
In November, GAN took the lead as the best-performing stock in the supplier category, bouncing back from a tough October.
The company’s stock value surged by 67.1% throughout the month, a significant turnaround from its position at $0.88 on 31 October to a closing value of $1.47 on 30 November.
GAN’s climb began after 7 November when the supplier confirmed the long-speculated acquisition by Japanese gaming giant Sega Sammy Creation.
This acquisition, at $1.97 per share in cash, reflects a substantial 121% premium over the stock’s closing price on 7 November.
Following this announcement, heavy trading of GAN stock ensued, catapulting its value to $1.66 on 9 November.
GAN interim CEO and chairman Seamus McGill commented: “After a thoughtful review of value creation opportunities available to us, we are pleased to have reached this agreement with SSC.
“Market share concentration in the US B2C space, a slower than expected adoption of regulated online gaming in the US, along with changes to key customer contracts make the near-term operating environment challenging without ample capital resources.
“Sega Sammy has those resources and GAN is a strategic complement to their existing gaming portfolio. We believe this all-cash offer, at a substantial premium to recent trading prices, is the value-maximising path for our shareholders.”
However, the acquisition isn’t set to be finalised until December 2024.
Stockholm-listed Acroud stood out among the affiliates on our watchlist last month.
While other affiliates experienced share losses—even the widely favoured Better Collective, which dipped nearly 12%—Acroud managed to achieve a 5.4% gain.
Its value rose from SEK 1.66 on 31 October to SEK 1.75 on 30 November.
Acroud released its Q3 2023 results in November, showcasing both positive and challenging aspects.
The company generated a 48% year-on-year revenue increase to Є9.9m. However, EBITDA (excluding one-off items) dropped by 21% year-on-year to Є1.2m.
On a brighter note, Acroud successfully brought in 72,270 New Depositing Customers (NDCs) for its partners, marking a 114% growth compared to Q3 2022.
CEO Robert Andersson acknowledged the difficulties faced during Q3, citing organisational changes that impacted the company’s performance.
He highlighted the restructuring of finance departments and a shift to in-house technology adoption to cut costs and streamline operations.
Andersson mentioned that while the results were disappointing, they were anticipated.
He attributed some of the impact to sports results, specifically noting a negative influence in September due to the success of many favorites. However, he emphasised that underlying Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) continue to exhibit strength.
He expressed confidence that the changes implemented by the company have now settled in Q3, leading to a more stable outlook.
“Contradictory to the seasons, Acroud is now heading towards brighter times in the last quarter of the year,” Anderson said.
Swedish affiliate and software as a service (SaaS) company Acroud AB achieved 53.2% year-on-year revenue growth in Q4 2022, largely thanks to the performance of recent acquisitions.
Total revenue for the quarter came in at €10m, up from €6.5m in the prior-year comparative period.
Although that represents a growth rate of some 53%, on an organic-only basis, revenue was down 3.3% compared to the previous year.
Adjusted EBITDA in Q4 came to €2.5m, more than double the €1.1m posted in Q4 2021.
The firm’s overall loss after tax was €20.3m, compared to a €356,000 loss in the prior-year period.
When adjusted for items affecting comparability and currency effects, however, the firm declared an adjusted profit after tax of €564,000, compared to a €264,000 adjusted loss in Q4 2021.
Items affecting comparability included an impairment charge of €18m (related to the writing down of asset values from the firm’s acquisition of Highlight Media in 2016) and an earn-out revaluation costing €2.9m.
Those figures brought Acroud’s full-year 2022 revenue to €30.9m, up 24.8%, or 6.9% on an organic-only basis.
Adjusted EBITDA for the year was €7.6m, up 40.4%, while the firm posted a loss after tax of €18.4m, compared to a €719,000 profit after tax in 2021.
When adjusted for items affecting comparability, including the €18m impairment charge, adjusted profit after tax for the year was €1.5m, up 42.5%.
Acroud’s recently acquired affiliation business – now known as Acroud Media – helped the company grow its number of new depositing customers (NDCs) by 160% to 84,086 during the quarter.
Q4 was the first quarter incorporating the new business segment, which is now “firing on all cylinders,” according to Acroud CEO Robert Andersson.
The business segment comprises mainly sports betting revenue driven by rev share deals with operators, which Andersson said gives it “a very stable and secure long-term revenue stream.”
The acquisition of Acroud Media helped the company’s iGaming affiliation division overtake the SaaS segment as its largest earner.
The acquisition also introduced sports betting revenue as the biggest vertical within that division.
While Acroud did generate some sports betting revenue prior to the acquisition, it remained below the amount earned from both the casino and poker verticals.
Overall, the affiliation segment generated €6.3m in revenue (up 134.8%) – or 63% of all revenue – while the SaaS segment generated the remaining 37% at €3.7m, down 4.2% year-on-year.
“I would lie if I said it did not annoy me.” Acroud CEO Robert Andersson on rev share being negatively impacted by unfavourable sports results.
The disadvantage of Acroud’s rev share agreements with operators is that they are negatively impacted by unfavourable sports results.
“This happened to us towards the end of December when all favourite teams in the English Premier League won,” Andersson commented.
“I would lie if I said it did not annoy me. However past results show that such hits occur only a few times during a calendar year and that revenue always comes back over time.”
Equity research analyst at Erik Penser Bank, Rikard Engberg, asked Andersson to explain a year-on-year reduction in sales via Acroud’s network model SaaS offering.
The network model offers SaaS products built for affiliates and content creators to track their operational KPIs, in addition to providing access to a large pool of clients, deals and campaigns that would otherwise be out of their reach.
Andersson said in response: “We have had a slight shift in focus and model there, and we are working a little bit more on lower volume but higher quality, trying to help those that deliver higher quality NDCs rather than just bulk.
“We’re kind of promoting them and this is all on revenue share, so it takes a little bit of time for this to have an effect. With that said, also some of the bigger clients will move on and these are normal fluctuations in the business.
“We do foresee continued growth going forward over time. With the network, it’s also quite a low margin business and costs directly correlate to payouts to the sub-affiliates. So that’s why you will see that when revenue decreases quite a bit, costs will also go down and the impact on EBITDA is not that great.”
Current trading and outlook
Positive momentum in Q4 has positioned the company to achieve its goals in 2023, Andersson said.
Those objectives include achieving 20% organic EBITDA growth and optimising the company’s capital structure by lowering its net debt/EBITDA ratio and lowering its gross debt.
Acroud’s net debt/EBITDA ratio fell to 2.5x as of December 2022, which Andersson said meets the target the business had set to reach by December 2025.
The company has a new management team in place, which aims to further strengthen the cooperation between Acroud’s subsidiaries and create a smaller, optimised organisation.
Changes to the company’s structure have led to a one-off restructuring cost of €98,000 in Q4 2022 but will lead to annual cost savings of €660,000, according to Andersson.
Looking to the company’s preliminary results from 2023, revenue in January totalled €2.3m, an increase of 35% year-on-year.
In February, Acroud appointed Tricia Vella as interim CFO following the resignation of Roderick Attard.
The recruitment process for a permanent CFO is still in progress, the company said.
Affiliate business Acroud has surpassed expectations set out in a Q1 trading update last month by announcing year-on-year revenue growth of 25.5% to €7.0m for the first three months of 2022.
CEO Robert Andersson said the firm has developed “from a conventional player with comparison sites to a fast-moving challenger in the space of not only iGaming affiliation but also B2B SaaS solutions.”
During the quarter, Acroud completed the divestment of its finance affiliation assets for $575,000, in line with its strategy to focus exclusively on affiliation in the iGaming sector and its B2B SaaS solutions.
Andersson said the company’s new priorities are sustainable growth in profitability and shareholder value, generated by a robust capital structure.
Following the announcement of its Q1 2022 results, Acroud has forecast full-year EBITDA of between €8m and €10m for 2022, with the aim to generate further organic EBITDA growth of 20% annually during the financial years 2023 to 2025.
The firm’s SaaS segment was its largest revenue generator during the last quarter, with €4.0m coming from the segment. This represents year-on-year growth of 45.9%, which also makes SaaS Acroud’s fastest-growing business segment.
Acroud CEO Robert Andersson: “We have developed from a conventional player with comparison sites to a fast-moving challenger in the space of not only iGaming affiliation but also B2B SaaS solutions.”
Affiliation generated the remaining €3.0m revenue in Q1, demonstrating a more modest year-on-year growth rate of 5.5%.
This growth was driven by increased investment in the second half of 2021 into SEO, technology, product quality and content, the firm said, while cost saving measures implemented as part of an efficiency programme helped the segment operate at an EBITDA margin of 50%, up from 37% in Q4 2021.
Total EBITDA across the business came to €2.2m, an increase of 56.0% year-on-year, at an improved overall margin of 32%, up from 26%. This left Acroud with a profit after tax of €1.2m, up from €748,000 in Q1 2021.
“Our growth in coming quarters will continue to be driven simultaneously by both segments and while the iGaming affiliation EBITDA margin will continue to exceed that of the SaaS segment due to the lower operational costs, the management focus will remain distributed equally between each business area,” Andersson said.
“Through the implementation of new initiatives, as well as effective collaboration and synergies between the different business areas, we will be strengthening our unique position of a software-based affiliate and continue to build a diversified and robust revenue base for sustainable future growth.”
At Acroud’s latest AGM, the company’s board was authorised to issue a total of 60 million new shares in the business up until next year’s AGM. There are currently 129.7 million shares held by the firm’s 1,992 shareholders.
The five directors who make up the company’s board were also re-elected at the AGM.
Acroud has released a Q1 2022 trading update and earnings forecast following what it called “exceptionally strong first-quarter performance”.
Total revenue for the affiliate is expected to come in at €6.9m for the quarter, some 24% ahead of Q1 2021. Some €3.0m of the estimated total will come from the iGaming affiliation segment, up 5% year-on-year.
This came primarily from Europe, which accounted for 69% of all iGaming revenue, with North America and so-called Other regions bringing in 16% and 15%, respectively.
Casino was the firm’s biggest earning vertical, generating 49% of iGaming revenue, followed by poker (28%), betting (21%) and other verticals (2%).
Acroud’s SaaS offering brought in the remaining €3.9m of revenue, representing 43% year-on-year growth for the segment.
Acroud CEO Robert Andersson: “This trading update reaffirms our strong start to the financial year and proves that Acroud is positioned to deliver significant growth in both revenue and profit in 2022 and beyond.”
Total group EBITDA is expected to come in at €1.8m for Q1, which increases to €2.2m when accounting for profits on the sale of Acroud’s financial affiliation assets, which took place in March 2022. This represents EBITDA growth of 56% year-on-year.
Acroud’s finance assets were divested for a total of $575,000, in line with the company’s strategy of focusing exclusively on the iGaming sector.
Acroud received $425,000 of the total purchase price on the day of the transaction, with the remaining $150,000 to be paid when the transfer of the sold assets has completed. Acroud said this is expected to take place before the end of April.
“This trading update reaffirms our strong start to the financial year 2022 and proves that Acroud is positioned to deliver significant growth in both revenue and profit in 2022 and beyond,” said Robert Andersson, president and CEO of Acroud.
“With a leaner and more agile team, the knowledge, assets, and cost base we have now in place, I’m excited to see we have reached the desirable foundation to accelerate revenue growth and optimal margins.”
The full Q1 report will be published on 19 May 2022.
Affiliate business Acroud generated total revenue of €24.8m in 2021, an increase of 113.0% year-on-year.
Growth was driven by the company’s acquisitions throughout the year, as core business revenue fell by 12.6% on an organic basis.
In January 2021, Acroud completed the acquisition of PMG Group’s iGaming SaaS assets, including affiliate network Matching Visions, B2B software supplier Voonix and marketing brand Traffic Grid.
It subsequently acquired Swedishsantas AB in April, the owner of Sweden-facing tipster brand TheGamblingCabin.
Acroud’s SaaS offerings accounted for 54.8% of total annual revenue, at €13.6m. The remaining €11.2m came from its iGaming affiliation segment.
Matching Visions was by far the firm’s largest independent revenue contributor, bringing in €11.6m. This equates to 46.6% of overall group revenue.
Within the iGaming affiliation segment, online casino accounted for 55.5% of revenue, while poker and sports betting brought in 24.3% and 18.6% of the total, respectively. The remaining 1.6% of affiliate revenue came from other verticals.
The business registered 133,195 new depositing customers (NDCs) throughout the year, an increase of 267.2% from 36,275 NDCs in 2020.
Total group EBITDA for 2021 totalled €4.7m, down 14.9%, while profit after tax came to €719,000, down 42.8%.
Adjusted EBITDA and adjusted profit after tax, which excludes items affecting comparability and currency effects, totalled €5.4m and €1.1m, respectively.
These figures gave Acroud earnings per share after dilution of €0.006, down from €0.016 in 2020. Net profit across the full year 2021 was €719,000, down 42.8% from €1.3m.
Looking specifically at Q4 2021, Acroud generated €6.5m in revenue, up 161.9% year-on-year, and declared EBITDA of €817,000, down 36.8%.
It registered a loss for the quarter of €356,000, reduced from Q4 2020’s loss of €685,000.
In November 2021, Acroud launched a large efficiency programme with around 20 staff members laid off to create a cost saving of around £1.2m in 2022, while accelerating revenue growth in 2022 and beyond.
The rationalisation process had a one-off cost in Q4 2021 of approximately €245,000.
“After multiple acquisitions, we have taken a big step towards becoming a more software-driven affiliate and have successfully executed cost synergies with the launch of our efficiency programme,” said Acroud CEO Robert Andersson.
“This means that we are able to do more with fewer people. We expect to see the significant effects on EBITDA levels from this programme in 2022 and onwards.
“While a leaner, more agile company keeps a higher pace and adapts quicker to the industry changes, we continue to keep a firm eye on our costs while accelerating our revenue growth in 2022 in line with our strategy,” he concluded.
Acroud’s share price has fallen 7% at the time of writing to SEK2.24 per share on Nasdaq Stockholm.
Acroud has published its financial results for the third quarter of 2021, showing total revenues of €6.4m, a 171.4% increase over Q3 2020.
Organic growth, however, was just 0.3%, as the majority of revenue was driven by assets which were newly acquired this year.
Revenues consisted of €3.7m from the business’ SaaS segment, following its acquisition of Power Media Group in January 2021, and €2.7m from iGaming affiliation.
Within the business’ iGaming affiliation segment, 68% of revenue was generated in Europe. A further 21% came from North America, while 11% was attributable to other markets.
The majority of affiliation revenue, 53%, was earnt on revenue share agreements. Cost-per-acquisition (CPA) agreements brought in 21%, while other agreement types accounted for the remaining 26%.
Matching Visions accounted for the majority of revenue in the SaaS segment, at €3.3m. Voonix accounted for a further €202,000, while other parts of the business brought in the remaining €280,000.
Acroud said: “The revenue development within Matching Visions is solid, driven by organic growth as well as the successful penetration in the Streaming market (Twitchers and Youtubers).”
“This is further complimented by strong growth in the number of New Depositing Customers (NDCs) delivered to operators reaching 21,454 NDCs in the third quarter compared with 10,483 in the corresponding period the previous year. Additional growth initiatives are being worked upon to target new markets, such as the Dutch and LATAM markets as well as the eSports segment.”
After personnel expenses of €1.0m and other external expenses of €4.5m, EBITDA came to €1.3m, up 30.9% year-on-year. Expenses were significantly higher than Q3 2020, as a result of additional costs associated with Acroud’s recent acquisitions – including Power Media Group and tipster service TheGamblingCabin.
Factoring in €520,000 in amortisation and depreciation, the business declared an operating profit of €738,000, but after income from other financial items of €111,000 and €633,000 in costs relating to interest and similar expenses, the business declared a profit before tax of €216,000.
After a tax benefit of €377,000, Acroud showed total comprehensive income for Q3 of €593,000, up 91.3% year-on-year.
Looking at the first nine months of 2021, total revenues came to €18.2m, around double the €9.1m recorded in the first nine months of 2020.
EBITDA for the first nine months of the year was down against 2020, at €3.9m compared to €4.2m. Total comprehensive income for the period was also down, coming in at €1.1m, compared to €1.9m in the first nine months of 2020.
Across all segments, the business registered 39,362 new depositing customers (NDCs) during Q3, up significantly from the 5,312 registered in Q3 2020.
This brought total NDCs for the first nine months of the year to 100,867, again up significantly year-on-year, from 25,013.
Robert Andersson, CEO of Acroud, said that during the quarter the business had actively continued to invest in new growth initiatives for the future, at the expense of its short-term profitability.
The business is not satisfied with its current EBITDA level, he said, with a margin of around 20%, but is sure of its progress, and underlying KPIs are showing strong trends which will bear fruit going forward.
The business suffered an impact from the regulation of the Dutch online gaming market, Andersson said, which negatively impacted its revenues from summer 2020.
He continued that Acroud is in a favourable position within the market, however, as the best way to describe the long term future of the jurisdiction is a ‘land grab’.
Andersson also said he is confident the core affiliate business will see solid organic growth, as well as growth in the US during 2022.
“To sum up where we stand at the moment, I can conclude that we have put a very eventful quarter behind us, integration and operational wise.”
“The fruit of the hard work has started to pay off, reaching 40,000 NDCs in Q3, which means that the EBITDA impact will come over time. In addition, after closing the third quarter the Dutch market has re-opened, which we will consider to be one of our core markets going forward,” Andersson concluded.