Glacier Media Inc.’s (“Glacier” or the “Company”) results for the quarter reflected the continued progress being made in the key business information growth initiatives as well as the evolution of the community media business.
The combined performance resulted in overall revenue growth for the Company, with sufficient revenues being generated from the growth areas to offset expected print revenue declines.
Glacier’s adjusted(1) consolidated revenue grew $2.2 million or 3.9% for the quarter. Excluding the acquisition of the remaining 50% interest in Infomine and the consolidation of its results, Glacier’s adjusted consolidated revenue grew 1.3%.
Glacier’s adjusted(1) consolidated EBITDA declined $1.6 million for the quarter due to increased investments made in some of the key strategic initiatives, including the REW real estate portal, agriculture show expansion, mining data and intelligence information products, and new digital community media products. These are being made to take advantage of current opportunities that exist in the Company’s markets that require timely action to be taken. The growth in revenues being achieved, and the demand for the Company’s products this reflects, underscores the fact that the investments are working and value is being created.
Highlights and Operational Overview
Environmental, Property and Financial Group
The Environmental, Property and Financial segment grew 11% in revenue. EBITDA for the segment was down 8% as operating investments continued to be made in key growth areas. ERIS experienced strong growth in both Canada and the U.S., with significant new customer additions and renewals including several new mid-sized customers in the US market. The growth resulted in a 29% increase in revenue and more than 50% increase in EBITDA. REW.ca, the Company’s online real estate portal, continued to grow in terms of site features, traffic and revenues. However, overall growth is slower due to the current conditions in the Vancouver and Toronto markets. ERIS and REW continued to make significant progress in terms of product developments and market expansion activities that are addressing customer demands and generating new revenue.
The commodities segment’s total revenue grew 14% including the acquisition of the remaining interest in Infomine. Excluding the acquisition, the commodities segment grew 5% in revenue despite a softening in the mining sector. EBITDA for the quarter fell by 7% due to the continued softness of the energy and mining markets and the ongoing operational investments.
Conditions in the agricultural markets have stabilized. The Company continued to invest in its agricultural information operations in key growth areas such as outdoor shows and online listings which resulted in improved operation performance, in particular, for both the Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show and Ag in Motion. Together, show revenue and EBITDA increased by 16% and 12% respectively.
The energy group continued to reap the benefits of the substantial restructurings enacted over the last two years. The energy information group is now focused on 1) data, analytics and intelligence products and 2) digital media. In aggregate, these products continued to experience slight revenue growth versus the prior year despite continuing soft market conditions. Stabilized revenues and the restructurings resulted in a substantial EBITDA increase as compared to Q3 2017.
Community media print advertising revenues continued to decline as anticipated, while digital revenues grew 57%. The 3% overall revenue decline for the community media segment was lower than the 5% Q2 decline given the strong digital performance.
Digital media operations continued to experience strong performance across a variety of products, such as local websites, retargeting services, website builds and Chinese digital marketing solutions.
At September 30, 2018, senior debt increased $1.8 million to $39.6 million. During the quarter, the Company invested $0.8 million in acquisitions and joint ventures & associates. Increased capital investments were also made in the Company’s key growth initiatives, particularly ERIS and the farm shows. As outlined in the last quarterly report, the Company’s non-recourse, non-mortgage debt in its investment entities has been substantially reduced as a result of significant debt repayment. This will allow for increased distributions from these entities to the Company in the future.
On an adjusted basis, Glacier’s consolidated debt net of cash outstanding before deferred financing charges was 1.6x trailing 12-months adjusted EBITDA as at September 30, 2018.
The Company is at an attractive juncture where it has meaningful growth opportunities in each of its sectors with which to increase value, and is achieving market traction in each one. The balance of effort and strategic focus is working. The progress being made is translating into actual product delivery, customer satisfaction and revenue generation.
While the mining market has slowed somewhat and energy remains soft, revenue opportunities exist to grow revenues in a variety of areas including data and information subscription products as well as shows and events. The agriculture market is stable and Glacier FarmMedia continues to have a variety of growth opportunities to pursue. The commercial and residential real estate markets continue to offer opportunity for ERIS and REW. While some of the Company’s markets are experiencing slowdowns in residential real estate activity, softer real estate markets often represent a greater need for realtor and developer advertising, depending on the level of slowdown.
Print advertising declines are expected to continue in community media. Digital revenue and profits are growing significantly and are providing a greater level of offset to the print revenue declines. It is also apparent that good print products still offer good value to readers and advertisers and provide cash flow to fund the Company’s growth initiatives as well. It now appears possible to preserve and potentially grow the value of the community media business with lower revenue but a more valuable digital business.
As outlined, the Company plans to continue to invest in its key strategic areas. The investments are critical to the Company’s growth plan and are resulting in demonstrable value creation. Given the uncertain North American and global economic conditions that exist and the stage of transformation some of the Company’s businesses are in, the Company will operate cautiously, but believes continued investment is necessary for long-term value creation. Cost efficiency opportunities continue to be pursued where possible to help manage profitability while investment is being made.
Management intends to build on the progress of the last few years in strengthening the Company’s financial position by further reducing debt. A strengthened balance sheet will mitigate risk while allowing the ongoing and planned operational and capital investments.
(1) Adjusted revenue and EBITDA reflects the inclusion of the Company’s proportionate share of revenues, expenses and profits from its joint ventures. For a reconciliation of adjusted results to results in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (“IFRS”), refer to the “Reconciliation of IFRS to Adjusted Results” as presented in the Company’s management discussion analysis