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Ipsos Half-year results: The havoc wreaked by COVID-19

IPSOS
·22 min de lecture

H1 2020
The havoc wreaked by COVID-19

H1 revenue: €786.0 million
Organic growth over the half: (13.5%)

Paris, July 22, 2019 – In H1 2020, Ipsos posted revenue of €786 million, down 13% year-on-year; this decrease breaks down into organic growth of -13.5%, scope effects of +0.6% and exchange rate effects of -0.1%.

After a close to flat performance in Q1, Q2 was heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. From April to June 2020, Ipsos posted revenue of €357 million, 25.8% lower than in 2019. At constant scope and exchange rates, this was minus 25.3%; positive scope effects were at +0.6% and negative exchange rate effects at-0.9%.

PERFORMANCE BY REGION

Millions of euros

H1 2020

2020 / 2019 contribution

2020 / 2019 organic growth

Reminder Q1 2020 Organic growth

EMEA

359.1

46%

(9.5%)

0.5%

Americas

288.6

37%

(15.5%)

4.6%

Asia Pacific

138.3

18%

(19%)

(10.5%)

Half-year revenue

786.0

100%

(13.5%)

0%

Sales were down across the three major regions that Ipsos typically tracks.
Asia Pacific suffered the highest year-on-year fall. It had already been heavily hit at the start of the year, unlike Europe, Middle East, Africa (EMEA) and the Americas regions that, despite already seeing difficulties in March, had seen some growth in Q1.
As an exception to the trend in recent years, the weight of emerging markets weakened this half. Revenue there was down 23%, compared with minus 10% in the developed world. Ipsos, which for many years had seen growth in developing countries, only accounted for 27% of its revenue there as against 31% in 2019 and one third in previous fiscal years. Large global companies refocused on their home markets and, at the same time, public authorities in developing countries have fewer resources than their counterparts in more prosperous regions. The gap between developed and less-developed countries narrowed over the past two decades, including in terms of per capita spending on market research and opinion polls. It has once again widened over the past months, potentially complicating the management of the period following the health crisis.

PERFORMANCE BY AUDIENCE

Millions of euros

H1 2020

Contribution

Organic growth

Reminder Q1 2020
Organic growth

Consumers1

335.6

43%

(19%)

(1.5)%

Clients and employees2

183.2

23%

(21%)

(5)%

Citizens3

141.6

18%

11.5%

10%

Doctors and patients4

125.6

16%

(5.5%)

3.5%

Half-year revenue

786.0

100%

(13.5%)

0%

Breakdown of Service Lines by audience segment: breakdown of revenue by audience segment is non-financial data, likely to change over time in line with changes in the structure of Ipsos teams.
1- Brand Health Tracking, Clinics & Mobility Labs, Creative Excellence, Innovation, Ipsos UU, Ipsos MMA, Market Strategy & Understanding, Observer (excl. public sector), Social Intelligence Analytics
2- Automotive & Mobility Dev, Audience Measurement, Customer Experience, Channel Performance (including Retail Performance and Mystery Shopping), Media development
3- Public Affairs, Corporate Reputation
4- Pharma (quantitative and qualitative)

The performance levels by audience are very mixed. Consumer sectors became very cautious once the lockdown happened in Europe followed by the Americas in March.
Research targeting their own clients, often conducted for companies of the services sector, also fell sharply.
Unsurprisingly, Ipsos continued to see sustained demand and, in some markets, very strong demand in terms of engaging with patients and citizens.
The pandemic was initially managed by the public agencies responsible for establishing and running health policies. Ipsos has a range of ongoing contracts, the purposes of which are varied. Some are designed to create systems to measure the prevalence of the epidemic; other surveys are designed to gain better insights into the opinions, hopes and fears of affected groups or indeed get their views on the measures that have already been put in place or are likely to be in the future. These projects are sometimes done in a specific country. They may also cover larger regions - in Africa or Latin America for example - and be financed by public and private funds through NGOs and foundations.

In some ways, the variability in the performances posted by Ipsos by audience reflects one of its strengths at a time when every company needs to be highly resilient.
Although businesses were quieter in Q2, aside from pharmaceutical companies or those working in the health sector, public bodies and institutions increasingly turned to reliable sources able to quickly produce large volumes of information.


FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE

Summary income statement

Millions of euros

H1 2020

H1 2019

Change H1 2020 / H1 2019

Reminder
Dec. 31,2019

Revenue

786.0

903.4

(13.0%)

2,003.3

Gross margin

512.0

583.0

(12.2%)

1,288.5

Gross profit / Revenue

65.1%

64.5 %

64.3%

Operating margin

25.0

49.3

(49.2%)

198.7

Operating profit / Revenue

3.2%

5.5 %

9.9%

Other non-operating / non-recurring income and expenses

(7.1)

(4.0)

(16.4)

Finance costs

(11.6)

(13.1)

(26.6)

Income tax

0.2

(6.6)

(36.9)

Net profit, attributable to the owners of the parent

1.3

18.7

104.8

Adjusted net profit*, attributable to the owners of the parent

12.8

29.4

(56.5%)

129.5

*Adjusted net profit is calculated before (i) non-cash items covered by IFRS 2 (share-based payments), (ii) amortization of intangible assets identified on acquisitions (client relationships), (iii) the impact net of tax of other non-operating income and expenses, (iv) the non-cash effect on changes in puts in other financial income and expenses and (v) deferred tax liabilities from goodwill, which in some countries can be amortized

Income statement items

Overall, the Group's operating margin was down around 230 basis points on the same period the previous year as a result of the sudden collapse in business as from mid-March. The sharpness of this fall meant we weren't able to reduce costs to the same extent in H1 because they are partly fixed and were scaled to meet the growth then expected for 2020.
It should also be noted that the research market is traditionally highly seasonal with more demand in H2 as contracts are performed. Accordingly, the revenue recognized in H1 has typically accounted for around 45% of full-year revenue in recent years (at constant scope and exchange rates). Conversely, operating expenses are accrued on a rather straight-line basis over the year.

For these reasons, the half-year operating margin is in no way predictive of the full-year operating margin.

The gross margin (which is calculated by deducting external direct variable costs of research projects from revenue) stood at 65.1%, compared with 64.5% in H1 2019. The increase in the percentage gross margin is down to a more favorable mix in data collection mechanisms resulting from the suspension of certain face-to-face survey activities during the lockdown, replaced in some instances by online surveys offering a higher gross margin. Over the half, online surveys accounted for 61% of revenue compared with 55% in 2019.

In terms of operating costs, gross payroll costs were down 3.2%, on the back of the twin effect of a reduction in headcount and various salary reduction measures.
There were 17,730 permanent employees at end-June against 18,448 as at end-December 2019, down 3.9%. This reduction occurred in Q2 following the hiring and replacement freeze.
The salary reduction measures (voluntary and temporary salary reductions agreed by a number of employees - between 10% and 20% for executives -; reduction in working time; unpaid leave;...) generated savings of around €10 million between mid-March and end-June.

Ipsos also benefited from the partial unemployment schemes put in place in certain countries (Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Croatia, France, Germany, Italia, Malaysia, Netherlands, Hong-Kong, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom). Such subsidies were recognized under “Other operating income and expenses” and totaled €17.5 million over the half. Payroll costs net of government subsidies were down 7.3%.

The cost of share-based payments was down slightly to €3.4 million compared with €3.7 million in H1 2019.

Overheads are under control and fell around €15 million in total (i.e. -14.5%), thanks to the tightening of certain discretionary expenditure and above all the lack of travel (€8 million) and savings on office use (€3.5 million).

The operating profit was €25.0 million, representing 3.2% of revenue versus 5.5% in H1 2019.

Under the operating margin, the amortization of acquisition-related intangible assets for the portion of goodwill allocated to client relations over the 12 months from the date of acquisition and which is amortized in the income statement over multiple years in line with IFRS. This line item amounted to €2.7 million, compared with €2.8 million previously.

Other non-operating and non-recurring income and expenses totaled -€7.1 million compared with -4.0 million the previous year. This line is composed of exceptional or non-operating items.
In H1 2019, expenses included acquisition costs of €2.0 million as well as €7.9 million in costs associated with the restructuring plans connected with the finalization of the TUP program and the integration of GfK Research.

In H1 2020, the expenses included acquisition costs of €0.6 million associated with the Maritz Mystery Shopping and Askia transactions at end-January and, above all, reorganization and restructuring costs of €11.3 million. This was up on H1 2019 due to the need to bring headcount into line with actual demand in certain countries.

In terms of income, this line item mainly reflected net income of €5.0 million following the decision to capitalize internal development costs as from January 2018 (this net income was €6.4 million in H1 2019).

Financing costs. Net interest costs amounted to €11.6 million compared with €13.1 million, on the back of the reduction in borrowings with strong cash generation.

Income tax. The effective tax rate in the IFRS income statement was
25.4%, compared with 26.0% the previous year. This includes deferred tax liabilities of €0.5 million which offsets the tax savings achieved as a result of the tax deductibility of the amortization of goodwill in some countries, even though this deferred tax expense would only be due in the event of the disposal of the operations in question (and which is thus restated in adjusted net profit).

Net profit (attributable to the owners of the parent), amounted to €1.3 million compared with €18.7 million in H1 2019.

Adjusted net profit (attributable to the owners of the parent), which is the relevant indicator consistently used to measure performance, amounted to €12.8 million, down 56.5% from the €29.4 million in H1 2019.

Financial structure

Cash flow. Gross cash flow from operating activities (before WCR, Taxes and interests) amounted to €58.7 million compared with €86.7 million in H1 2020. This decline reflected the lower operating profit.

In total, Free Cash Flows hit a record of €161 million. It was in line with forecasts in Q1 but was particularly high in Q2 due to the strong sales at end-2019 and early 2020 which drove inflows over the half. This went hand-in-hand with lower demand from mid-March, which resulted in a reduction in trade receivables as at June 30, 2020.

The working capital requirement thus trended positively by €167.3 million in H1 2020. Usually, when a business is growing, trade receivables increase, resulting in an investment in working capital requirement, as happened at June 30, 2019 (negative €14.1 million change in working capital requirement).

Current investments in property, plant and equipment and intangible assets mainly involved IT investments. They totaled €20.4 million in H1 versus €21.2 million over the same period last year.

In terms of non-current investments, Ipsos invested close to €15.4 million, primarily making two acquisitions in Q1: Maritz Mystery Shopping and Askia. These two companies were consolidated as from February 1, 2020.

Equity stood at €1,055 million at June 30, 2020 compared with the €1,122 million reported at December 31, 2019.

Net borrowings stood at €441.0 million, down on December 31, 2019 (€574.6 million). Net gearing was down to 41.8% from 51.5% at December 31, 2019 and 59.1% at June 30, 2019.

Cash position. Year-end cash hit record levels of €306.9 million at June 30, 2020 compared with €165.4 million at December 31, 2019, giving Ipsos a strong cash position. The Group also has over €400 million in available credit facilities, allowing it to meet its debt repayments in 2020 and 2021.

Lastly, it should be noted that the General Shareholders’ Meeting held on May 28, 2020 approved a dividend of €0.45 per share in respect of the 2019 fiscal year. This was paid out on July 3, 2020 and totaled €19.8 million. This payout was cut in half from the €0.89 per share initially considered in February 2020.

OUTLOOK FOR 2020 AND BEYOND

The epidemic has been relatively static for the past weeks. It is thus difficult to gage how long the crisis will last.
It seems reasonable to assume and this is clearly the most likely outcome, that business will be affected so long as we have no treatment or vaccine.
It is thus hoped that the authorities will not have to impose further total lockdowns like those seen in most countries in recent months. The businesses of Ipsos clients, and hence of Ipsos itself, were heavily hit by the lockdowns. At mid-March, the lockdowns already in place in China, other parts of Asia and Italy became the order of the day elsewhere. There were without doubt differences. For example, in Europe, the rules were stricter in Spain, where the army was deployed, than in Germany. That said, the consequences were identical. Economies came to a standstill. Ipsos saw its order book deflate during March (-40%) and April (-60%). May saw a softening (-28%) although cancellations and the scaling back of existing orders remained higher than anticipated. This thus delayed a more satisfactory upswing in business.

As already noted, Ipsos was adversely affected by a combination of three factors: The business performance of its clients; uncertainties as to what the world will look like going forward – right after the lockdown ends and the time after that – when we (finally!) come out of the health crisis; and, thirdly, the technical and legal obstacles preventing the performance of certain contracts that require repeated close contact between people. Bringing consumers together to get them to collectively experience in a dynamic environment this or that market situation is almost impossible. Going to consumers’ homes to observe their behavior or test this or that product is not an option…

Nevertheless, despite these constraints, some of which still remain, Ipsos has seen business tick up over the past weeks. The volume of cancellations and postponements is falling and new order flows are growing.
The aforementioned negative factors are still live, but have less impact or can be overcome. Firstly, Ipsos’s clients – large or medium size companies or institutions – are required, at the risk of becoming irrelevant, to work, evolve, take initiatives, to adapt to new realities. To this end, even if they have limited resources, they need quality up to date information. Next, these same clients are seeing their consumers and clients come out of the total lockdown they had faced, at least in certain regions. Every company, regardless of its sector and footprint, must be able to adapt, move quickly and, where possible, stay relevant. The uncertainties in play in the Spring mitigating against the services offered by Ipsos and its competitors are becoming reasons to acquire market data.

Lastly, Ipsos’s teams have worked really hard since the start of the health crisis: their efforts focused on two key areas: i) developing new scientific and technological approaches to enable ways of working that are compatible with protective measures including the wearing of masks and social distancing; and ii) ramping up the use of webinars and other publications and continuing constructive dialog with their clients. Many companies in the business services sector took similar steps.
We feel that making the most of the resources of a company like Ipsos operating worldwide, managing 70,000 different projects annually and employing 18,000 professionals, has allowed us to add value to those engaging with us and to stand out. Ipsos’ recent ranking, in the GRIT report, as the most innovative market research company worldwide for the second year running reflects this.

All of these various strands made it possible to post encouraging results: After three months of sharp declines, Ipsos’ order book turned slightly positive in June. This was partly due to the winning of new public contracts associated with the COVID-19 epidemic; overall, at end-June, it stabilized at around minus 10%.
Beyond that, there continues to be significant uncertainty, meaning that it is impossible to accurately predict Ipsos revenue for the remainder of the year.

Thanks to the work done by its teams, the increased digitalization of its information communication, analysis and production systems, and its market and customer insights, Ipsos expects, despite the uncertainties, to see a better performance in H2 2020 than in the first half, both in terms of sales and revenue and its operating margins.

Appendices

  • Consolidated income statement

  • Statement of financial position

  • Consolidated cash flow statement



A summary of the half-yearly results can be found on ipsos.com and a live presentation of our results will be streamed at 8:30 on Thursday, July 23. You can watch it on our website. Should you have any questions, please join the conference call: to attend dial one of the following numbers:

France: +33 (0) 1 70 99 47 40
US: +1212999 6659
UK: +44 (0) 20 3003 2666

Confirmation code: "Ipsos Half-Yearly Results"




ABOUT IPSOS

Ipsos is the third largest market research company in the world, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.

Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. Our 75 business solutions are based on primary data coming from our surveys, social media monitoring, and qualitative or observational techniques.

“Game Changers” – our tagline – summarizes our ambition to help our 5,000 clients navigate with confidence our world of rapid change.

Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has been listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 indexes and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).
ISIN code FR0000073298, Reuters ISOS.PA, Bloomberg IPS:FP www.ipsos.com

Consolidated income statement
Half-yearly financial statements at June 30, 2020

In thousands of euros

06/30/2020

06/30/2019

12/31/2019

Revenue

785,993

903,359



2,003,255

Direct costs

(273,947)

(320,380)

(714,791)

Gross profit

512,045

582,978

1,288,464

Employee benefit expenses – excluding share-based payments

(409,917)

(423,587)

(862,948)

Employee benefit expenses - share based payments*

(3,397)

(3,672)

(6,924)

General operating expenses

(91,324)

(106,776)

(218,902)

Other operating income and expenses

17,642

336

(995)

Operating profit

25,049

49,279

198,696

Amortization of intangible assets identified on acquisitions *

(2,715)

(2,830)

(5,160)

Other non-operating income and expenses

(7,085)

(4,003)

(16,381)

Share of profit/(loss) of associates

(378)

(356)

(615)

Operating profit

14,872

42,090

176,539

Finance costs

(11,582)

(13,116)

(26,637)

Other financial income and expenses *

(3,908)

(3,686)

(7,328)

Net profit before tax

(618)

25,288

142,574

Income tax – excluding deferred tax on goodwill amortization

621

(5,411)

(34,539)

Deferred tax on goodwill amortization *

(464)

(1,164)

(2,339)

Income tax

157

(6,575)

(36,878)

Net profit

(461)

18,714

105,695

Attributable to the owners of the parent

1,276

18,744

104,785

Attributable to non-controlling interests

(1,737)

(30)

910

Basic earnings per share [attributable to the owners of the parent] (in €)

0.03

0.43

2.39

Diluted earnings per share [attributable to the owners of the parent] (in €)

0.03

0.42

2.32


Adjusted earnings*

11,208

29,714

130,719

Attributable to the owners of the parent

12,776

29,370

129,519

Attributable to non-controlling interests

(1,568)

345

1,200

Adjusted basic earnings per share, attributable to the owners of the parent

0.29

0.67

2.95

Adjusted diluted earnings per share, attributable to the owners of the parent

0.28

0.66

2.87

* Adjusted for non-cash items related to IFRS 2 (share-based compensation), amortization of intangible assets identified on acquisitions (client relationships), deferred tax liabilities related to goodwill for which amortization is deductible in some countries, the impact net of tax of other non-operating income and expenses and the non-cash impact of changes in puts in other financial income and expenses.

Statement of financial position
Half-yearly financial statements at June 30, 2020

In thousands of euros

06/30/2020

06/30/2019

12/31/2019

ASSETS

Goodwill

1,300,932

1,304,470

1,322,906

Right-of-use assets

141,614

158,623

152,646

Other intangible assets

90,256

86,212

89,076

Property, plant and equipment

35,977

37,302

39,753

Investments in associates

1,788

2,712

1,114

Other non-current financial assets

46,200

45,697

44,766

Deferred tax assets

36,630

26,885

25,300

Non-current assets

1,653,398

1,661,903

1,675,561

Trade receivables

292,116

352,168

518,697

Contract assets

169,936

253,007

203,094

Current tax

15,450

22,951

14,833

Other current assets

98,624

92,899

92,846

Financial derivatives

368

-

(1,094)

Cash and cash equivalents

306,885

145,263

165,436

Current assets

883,380

866,287

993,812

TOTAL ASSETS

2,536,778

2,528,190

2,669,372

In thousands of euros

06/30/2020

06/30/2019

12/31/2019

EQUITY AND LIABILITIES

Share capital

11,109

11,109

11,109

Additional paid-in capital

515,873

516,038

516,000

Treasury shares

(10,342)

(13,340)

(12,382)

Translation adjustments

(136,277)

(109,088)

(96,352)

Other reserves

655,715

580,469

580,314

Net profit, attributable to the owners of the parent

1,276

18,744

104,785

Equity, attributable to the owners of the parent

1,037,354

1,003,932

1,103,475

Non-controlling interests

18,278

18,237

19,247

Equity

1,055,631

1,022,169

1,122,722

Borrowings and other non-current financial liabilities

562,388

731,835

561,490

Non-current lease liabilities

122,311

140,140

133,112

Non-current provisions

783

3,820

762

Provisions for retirement benefit obligations

34,102

30,803

33,058

Deferred tax liabilities

70,384

70,417

72,196

Other non-current liabilities

21,233

15,204

14,980

Non-current liabilities

811,201

992,219

815,599

Trade payables

232,973

254,620

300,681

Borrowings and other current financial liabilities

185,851

17,913

181,229

Current lease liabilities

39,977

41,473

41,971

Current tax

9,456

4,078

16,273

Current provisions

7,553

3,606

9,025

Contract liabilities

36,317

27,990

34,594

Other current liabilities

157,819

164,121

147,278

Current liabilities

669,946

513,802

731,051

TOTAL LIABILITIES

2,536,778

2,528,190

2,669,372


Consolidated cash flow statement
Half-yearly financial statements at June 30, 2020

In thousands of euros

06/30/2020

06/30/2019

12/31/2019

OPERATING ACTIVITIES

NET PROFIT

(461)

18,714

105,695

Non-cash items

Amortization and depreciation of property, plant and equipment and intangible assets

39,930

36,467

75,199

Net profit of equity-accounted companies, net of dividends received

378

356

636

Losses/(gains) on asset disposals

121

(19)

323

Net change in provisions

525

1,833

5,889

Share-based payment expense

3,269

3,424

6,604

Other non-cash income/(expenses)

538

1,666

1,028

Acquisition costs of consolidated companies

615

2,002

2,383

Finance costs

13,892

15,716

31,750

Tax expense

(157)

6,575

36,878

CASH FLOW FROM OPERATING ACTIVITIES BEFORE FINANCE COSTS AND TAX

58,651

86,734

266,386

Change in working capital requirement

167,318

(14,098)

(52,676)

Income tax paid

(13,823)

(21,896)

(35,854)

CASH FLOW FROM OPERATING ACTIVITIES

212,146

50,740

177,855

INVESTING ACTIVITIES

Acquisitions of property, plant and equipment and intangible assets

(20,401)

(21,185)

(43,232)

Proceeds from disposals of property, plant and equipment and intangible assets

22

58

81

Increase/(decrease) in financial assets

(62)

2,960

3,187

Acquisitions of consolidated activities and companies, net of acquired cash

(12,462)

(3,987)

(5,435)

CASH FLOW FROM INVESTING ACTIVITIES

(32,902)

(22,154)

(45,400)

FINANCING ACTIVITIES

Share capital increases/(reductions)

-

-

-

Net (purchases)/sales of treasury shares

1,781

304

1,324

Increase in long-term borrowings

-

27

62

Decrease in long-term borrowings

(79)

(22)

(5,160)

Increase in long-term loans to associates

(2,904)

(12,391)

(12,284)

Increase/(decrease) in bank overdrafts

(851)

(555)

(1,467)

Net repayment of lease liabilities

(21,147)

(19,359)

(40,231)

Net interest paid

(6,388)

(7,594)

(25,367)

Net interest paid on lease liabilities

(2,369)

(1,958)

(4,508)

Buy-out of non-controlling interests

(147)

(10,836)

(10,935)

Dividends paid to the owners of the parent

-

-

(38,649)

Dividends paid to non-controlling interests of consolidated companies

-

-

-

CASH FLOW FROM FINANCING ACTIVITIES

(32,103)

(52,383)

(137,215)

NET CHANGE IN CASH AND CASH EQUIVALENTS

147,141

(23,797)

(4,760)

Impact of foreign exchange rate movements on cash

(5,691)

1,225

2,362

CASH AND CASH EQUIVALENTS AT THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR

165,436

167,834

167,834

CASH AND CASH EQUIVALENTS AT THE END OF THE YEAR

306,885

145,263

165,436

Attachment