S4 Capital Lowers Full-Year Expectations

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Shares of S4 Capital plunged after the company adjusted its full-year expectations due to a sluggish summer performance and client caution. Despite this development, S4 Capital reported a significant reduction in operating loss, largely attributed to lower acquisition-related expenses.

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Revised Projections

S4 Capital, a reputable UK digital advertising and marketing-services company founded by Martin Sorrell in 2018 following his departure from WPP, announced that it is revising its full-year expectations. The company experienced slower-than-anticipated business activity during the summer months, consequently leading to a downward revision in like-for-like net revenue compared to the previous guidance of 2%-4% growth.

Target Adjustments

Furthermore, S4 Capital adjusted its target for operational earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) margin. The new target range stands at 12%-13.5%, down from the previous projection of 14.5%-15.5%.

Multiple Guidance Revisions

This marks the second time S4 Capital has revised its guidance this year. In July, the company issued new projections, having initially forecasted a like-for-like net revenue growth range of 6%-10% and an operational EBITDA margin of 15%-16%.

Positive Operating Loss Reduction

S4 Capital reported an operating loss of £6.4 million ($7.9 million) for the first half of 2023. This represents a significant improvement compared to the £75.4 million loss recorded in the same period the previous year.

Slower Top-Line Growth Impacts S4’s First-Half Profitability

London, September 15 – S4, a global advertising and marketing company, announced that its first-half profitability has been affected by slower top-line growth. The company reported that this performance fell below its initial expectations but emphasized its commitment to maintaining a disciplined cost-management approach.

As a result of cost management initiatives, S4 has implemented a reduction in headcount. The Media.Monks unit witnessed a 5% decrease in staff, bringing the total number of employees to 8,551.

Positive Revenue Growth Amidst Challenging Conditions

Despite the challenging macroeconomic environment and clients’ cautiousness due to recession fears, S4 reported a positive increase in revenue. The company’s total revenue rose to GBP517.1 million from GBP446.4 million. Additionally, net revenue experienced a 19% growth on a reported basis, reaching GBP445.5 million. However, when considering like-for-like comparisons, the growth rate was 5.1%.

Founder and executive chairman of S4, Sir Martin Sorrell, remains optimistic about the company’s future prospects. Sorrell stated, “We remain confident that our talent, business model, strategy, and strong client relationships position us for above-average growth in the longer term.” He further highlighted the company’s renewed focus on utilizing free cash flow for dividends and share buybacks.

Dividend Considerations and Cash Flow Expectations

S4’s board of directors is set to consider a dividend of at least 1 pence per share for the full-year. This decision reflects the board’s confidence in the company’s strategic direction and its expectation of positive cash generation in 2024 without significant combination payments.

The advertising industry has recently witnessed some challenges among key players. M&C Saatchi reported a pretax loss for the first half of the year due to higher charges and lower revenue, while Tremor International experienced a downturn in second-quarter earnings and revised its full-year guidance.

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