SES YTD and Q3 2015 results
SES’s global business generating revenue and profit growth
- YTD 2015 revenue of EUR 1,492.6 million, up 6.1% (-2.9% at constant FX) over prior year
- YTD 2015 EBITDA of EUR 1,106.5 million, up 5.4% (-3.6% at constant FX) over prior year
- YTD 2015 EBITDA margin of 74.1% (YTD 2014: 74.6%)
- YTD 2015 profit after tax up 3.7% to EUR 473.5 million
Solid medium-term growth drivers in Global Video, Next Generation Data and ‘fibre in the sky’
- HD TV channels grew 18.6% (YOY) to 2,178; HD penetration up from 28.6% to 30.6% of all channels
- Six commercial Ultra HD agreements now secured YTD 2015, with five channels already broadcasting
- Expanded StarTimes partnership with differentiated combination of infrastructure and services solutions
- SES’s SAT>IP Alliance gaining momentum and support across the industry
- Developing SES’s Next Generation Data business through partnerships with Post Telecom and Softwire
- O3b Networks now has 40 customers in service after first full year of operation
Karim Michel Sabbagh, President and CEO, commented: “SES has continued to be productive in the third quarter 2015. SES has been first out of the starting gate in the commercial introduction of Ultra HD, building on the milestone of Europe’s first commercial UHD channel, pearl.tv – and adding further agreements in Europe and North America with Sky Deutschland, NASA TV, Fashion One, High 4K and TERN.
SES has exciting opportunities ahead and is well placed to deliver sustained medium to long-term growth. Our relentless execution of a differentiated strategy allows us to capitalise on the strong demand drivers across the four market verticals now defining SES’s business.
SES-9 and SES-10 will add significant growth capacity to serve the strong demand for Video in International markets, and we are globalising SES’s services capabilities in tandem with infrastructure to provide a value-added global satellite-enabled solution.
SES-12, SES-14 and SES-15 will optimally serve multiple Next Generation Data and Mobility requirements by combining wide-area beams with a global high throughput satellite platform. The improved price points of HTS are stimulating new applications and growth opportunities for SES, with anchor customers already secured.
The SES-16/GovSat programme is SES’s first satellite dedicated to Government customers and will further expand our global government customer base, while the long-term outlook for SES Government Solutions remains robust.
These investments are also perfectly complemented by O3b’s ‘fibre in the sky’ satellite offering, which has now successfully completed its first year of operations. As the business continues to develop, SES will increasingly benefit from a unique ability to offer a differentiated and complementary GEO/MEO solution.”
2015 YTD Financial Review
Group revenue as reported was EUR 1,492.6 million, up 6.1% compared with the prior year period, including the benefit of the stronger U.S. Dollar. Revenue was 2.9% lower at constant FX, principally due to the lower level of outright transponder sales under the comprehensive agreement with Eutelsat and the impact of capacity renewal agreements with EchoStar on AMC-15/AMC-16 up to the entry into service of SES-11 (expected to be launched in H2 2016).
Adjusting for these events, group revenue growth was positive (at constant FX), with growth achieved from infrastructure and services in three of SES’s four market verticals (Video, Mobility and Government), offset by a reduction in Fixed Data.
Reported EBITDA increased 5.4% to EUR 1,106.5 million (down 3.6% at constant FX). Operating expenses were EUR 386.1 million, up 8.2%, due to the impact of the stronger U.S. Dollar on the proportion of group costs denominated in U.S. Dollars. Operating expenses were stable on a constant FX basis, as an increase in the variable cost of sales associated with the additional revenue from the services businesses was offset by lower infrastructure costs. The EBITDA margin was 74.1% (YTD 2014: 74.6%).
Depreciation and amortisation expense of EUR 440.1 million was 12.0% higher than the prior year, due entirely to the impact of the stronger U.S. Dollar. At constant FX, depreciation and amortisation was EUR 3.3 million (0.7%) lower than YTD 2014.
Profit after tax increased 3.7% to EUR 473.5 million, benefiting from a reduction of EUR 20.8 million (16.8%) in net financing costs to EUR 103.7 million, which included foreign exchange gains of EUR 31.6 million, mainly from the positive impact of the stronger U.S. Dollar.
The group’s income tax expense was EUR 89.2 million (YTD 2014: EUR 75.2 million), representing an effective tax rate of 15.9% (YTD 2014: 14.1%).
The effect of non-cash movements associated with the commencement of operations by O3b Networks was the principal contributor to SES’s share of joint ventures and associates’ result being a loss of EUR 95.5 million (YTD 2014: loss of EUR 17.2 million). Consequently, Net profit attributable to SES shareholders was EUR 375.5 million (YTD 2014: EUR 437.9 million).
The group’s Net Debt to EBITDA ratio at 30 September 2015 was 2.62 times (30 September 2014: 2.87 times).
Q3 2015 Financial Review
Third quarter group revenue as reported was EUR 493.5 million, up 5.5% compared with the prior year period. At constant FX, revenue was 3.3% lower than Q3 2014, as growth from new infrastructure and services contracts was offset by the impact of the stronger U.S. Dollar on certain Fixed Data customers in the International segment and the transition of capacity contracted by ARSAT on to its own satellite.
Group EBITDA as reported increased 3.0% to EUR 366.5 million (-5.8% at constant FX) as growth in revenue was offset by an increase in operating expenses due to the impact of the stronger U.S. Dollar, as well as higher variable cost of sales associated with the growth in services revenue. The EBITDA margin of 74.3% (Q3 2014: 76.1%) remained in line with recent quarters, as well as the FY 2014 EBITDA margin of 74.4%.
Third quarter operating profit was EUR 216.5 million (Q3 2014: EUR 219.0 million).
Since 30 September 2014, the total number of TV channels broadcast over the SES fleet grew by 10.9% to 7,115 channels. High Definition (HD) TV channels increased by 18.6% to 2,178 channels (30.6% of total TV channels) and were a major contributor to the overall growth. SES’s global fleet carries over 25% of the world’s HD TV channels distributed over satellite – the highest number of any operator.
SES’s fully protected contract backlog remains robust at EUR 7.1 billion, benefiting from new contracts and renewals secured during the period.
European revenue was EUR 760.1 million for 2015 YTD and was 0.3% higher than the prior year period (or 0.4% higher at constant FX, where the difference primarily reflects the impact of EUR/SEK movement), including the sale of four transponders to Eutelsat (2014 YTD: eight transponders sold). Adjusting for the transponder sales, Europe revenue performance was even higher, benefiting from new infrastructure and European services contracts.
During the third quarter 2015, SES achieved further important milestones towards accelerating the commercial introduction of Ultra High Definition (UHD) TV, which is an important growth driver for SES’s video business. In July 2015, SES secured an additional commercial capacity agreement with Sky Deutschland, the leading pay TV provider in Germany and Austria, for UHD broadcasts using SES’s 19.2 degrees East orbital position.
This was followed, in September 2015, by a long-term agreement with TV Entertainment Reality Network (TERN) to contract satellite capacity at 19.2 degrees East to launch a new free-to-air channel in both HD and UHD quality. The channel, INSIGHT, began broadcasting in October 2015 and features innovative documentaries, accessible reality series and cutting-edge factual infotainment, as well as high levels of interactive new formats to enable the sharing of content through social media. Also in September 2015, pearl.tv (which signed Europe’s first commercial UHD contract in May 2015) began broadcasting from 19.2 degrees East.
SES remains at the forefront of UHD developments and, in September 2015, completed two successful demonstrations of UHD High Dynamic Range (HDR) transmissions. The transmissions, in partnership with LG Electronics and Dolby Laboratories, showcased two features that will further enhance the UHD viewing experience: HDR and Wide Colour Gamut, which bring more contrast and a larger palette of colours.
SAT>IP, an innovative new technology, has been developed to serve the growing demand from consumers to complement their television viewing experience with the ability to receive video broadcast by satellite across a range of Internet Protocol (IP) devices. SES was joined in April 2015 by HISPASAT, Panasonic, NAGRA, Ali Corporation and MaxLinear in establishing the SAT>IP Alliance to encourage the development and adoption of the SAT>IP technology, and Eutelsat announced that it was also joining this effort to support the SAT>IP initiative in September 2015.
In August 2015, SES Techcom Services entered into a new partnership with Post Telecom, a leading specialist in Information Communications Technology (ICT), to develop and introduce smart cloud-based ICT solutions worldwide. The partnership will combine both organisations’ core competencies to jointly develop and commercialise satellite and cloud-based communication solutions to serve future customer requirements in the telecom industry.
North American revenue increased by 15.8% as reported to EUR 292.8 million for 2015 YTD. At constant FX, revenue was 4.1% lower, principally due to the impact of the capacity renewal agreements with EchoStar for AMC-15/AMC-16 following the expiry of the initial ten-year commitments.
Having carried out several successful UHD trials and demonstrations in North America, SES secured three agreements for UHD broadcasting during September 2015, including the world’s first global UHD channel.
Fashion One 4K (Fashion 4K in Europe), part of the leading fashion, entertainment and lifestyle TV network, is being broadcast across North America, South America and Europe using SES satellites. The channel is also broadcast to households across Asia-Pacific, Middle East, Australia and East Africa. In addition, SES Platform Services (SES PS) is providing a fully-managed UHD playout, along with ground segment and distribution services.
High 4K TV is using capacity on SES-3 to deliver a 24/7 multi-genre linear cable TV channel, which will feature a broad range of content from UHD movies and TV shows to sports and documentaries. SES-3 operates at 103 degrees West and is one of three satellites (along with SES-1 at 101 degrees West and AMC-18 at 105 degrees West) which make up SES’s UHD neighbourhood at the centre of the North American orbital arc. These three spacecraft collectively offer programmers the potential to reach an audience of more than 100 million TV households through virtually every cable TV, Internet Protocol (IP) TV and direct-to-home (DTH) provider across the region.
In addition, SES’s AMC-18 satellite is distributing NASA’s new UHD channel, which is being produced by Harmonic, the leading video delivery infrastructure provider. The channel showcases the beauty and grandeur of space using content sourced from high resolution images and video generated on the International Space Station and other NASA missions, as well as re-mastered footage from historical missions.
Mobility is a significant new growth area for SES. Over the past two quarters, SES has further expanded its commercial relationship with Global Eagle Entertainment (GEE), an important anchor customer for both SES’s existing fleet and future HTS capacity (on SES-12, SES-14 and SES-15). By doubling its global capacity usage, GEE is able to provide a significantly enhanced passenger experience for its clients. SES continues to accelerate the scale-up of its capabilities and investments in Mobility to best support anchor service providers in delivering unsurpassed user experience to the airlines in this important market vertical.
SES Government Solutions (SES GS) has continued to win new business with the U.S. Government in the period. Building on the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) hosted payload, a 14-year agreement secured in April 2015, SES GS has expanded its relationship with Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) with a contract to develop and build two ground uplink stations to support the next generation of the WAAS network. The uplink stations will transmit data to improve the accuracy, integrity and availability of the Global Positioning System (GPS) to support aircraft in all phases of flight.
International revenue was EUR 439.7 million (YTD 2015), up 11.1% as reported. At constant FX, revenue was 7.3% lower reflecting the transition of capacity contracted by ARSAT to its own satellite and the impact of the stronger U.S. Dollar on certain Fixed Data customers. This was partially offset by growth from new capacity and services agreements to serve multiple Video and Data applications, notably with StarTimes and in SES’s YahLive venture.
In July 2015, StarTimes contracted SES Platform Services to distribute TV channels for their DTH subscribers across Sub-Saharan Africa, using SES PS’s broadcast facility in Germany. Under the new multi-year agreement, SES PS will provide signal turnaround, video processing and uplinking services to StarTimes, which has more than five million subscribers across 16 African countries. StarTimes had recently, in June 2015, contracted additional capacity on SES-5 at 5 degrees East to offer an enhanced TV viewing experience by providing better quality content and more TV channels on its DTH package.
In October 2015, SES agreed a multi-year capacity contract with Softwire Digital Solutions to provide e-learning solutions for Nigeria. Softwire will use capacity on NSS-10, located at 37.5 degrees West, with the aim of bridging the digital and information gap that exists in rural areas of Nigeria by providing important e-learning facilities to the underserved areas.
O3b Networks, in which SES has a 45% interest, completed its first full year of operations in September 2015 and the business has continued to develop strongly. The O3b network has become the fastest growing in satellite history with 40 customers across 31 countries in service and benefiting from ‘fibre in the sky’ connectivity provided by the company’s high-throughput and low-latency Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) satellite constellation.
O3b is supporting Mobile Network Operators to expand 3G and 4G/LTE services to rural populations; Internet Service Providers to deliver high-speed broadband on isolated island chains and cruise lines; Oil and Gas companies to reduce costs and improve crew welfare; and governments to add flexibility to services and gain significant strategic advantage.
In August 2015, SES Government Solutions agreed a one-year contract with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) to provide O3b services and ground equipment to the National Weather Service Office (WSO) in Pago Pago, American Samoa. The use of O3b enables NOAA to expand their broadband connectivity outside the continental U.S. to facilitate the wider dissemination of weather and data forecasting, as well as the ability to update forecast models and issue safety warnings in near real-time with the benefit of an uninterrupted high-speed data connection.
FLEET DEVELOPMENT AND UTILISATION
At 30 September 2015, SES’s global satellite fleet comprised 53 geostationary satellites. This is complemented at MEO by SES’s 45% interest in O3b, whose constellation of 12 HTS satellites provides additional differentiating capabilities to optimally serve Next Generation Data (NGD) requirements.
Utilisation and satellite health
As at 30 September 2015, the SES fleet had 1,502 available transponders (30 September 2014: 1,534 available transponders), of which 1,086 transponders were utilised (30 September 2014: 1,110 utilised transponders). In the third quarter, the SES inventory reduced by 16 transponders, compared to Q3 2014, as ARSAT concluded the migration of capacity at 72 degrees West from AMC-6 on to its ARSAT-1 satellite. ARSAT-1 is now operating all of the Ku band filings for Latin America at this orbital position and these frequencies can no longer be operated by SES on AMC-6. AMC-6 continues to maintain its North American mission at 72 degrees West.
The group satellite utilisation rate was 72.3% at 30 September 2015 (30 September 2014: 72.4%). Average revenue per utilised transponder remained unchanged across the market segments and the discrete national markets served.
The impacts of power degradation noted on AMC-8 and AMC-10 in the first half of 2015 have been mitigated by the group’s existing fleet capabilities. No other material reduction in commercial capacity occurred on other fleet assets during the period.
SES will launch seven new satellites between end-2015 and end-2017. These will increase available capacity by 180 net (36 MHz) transponders, or 12% of current total available capacity, while capacity in the International segment will grow by 21%. Three of these satellites (SES-12, SES-14 and SES-15) will also carry a total of 36 GHz of HTS capacity, which is equivalent to around 250 (36 MHz) transponder equivalents.
|SES-91||Asia-Pacific||Video, Data, Mobility||Q4 2015|
|SES-10||Latin America||Video, Data||H2 2016|
|SES-11||North America||Video||H2 2016|
|SES-121||Asia-Pacific||Video, Data, Mobility||H2 2017|
|SES-141||Latin America||Video, Data, Mobility||H2 2017|
|SES-151||North America||Data, Mobility, Government||H1 2017|
1 SES-9, SES-12, SES-14 and SES-15 to be positioned using electric orbit raising, entry into service typically four to six months after launch
2 Procured by LuxGovSat
The financial guidance published with the H1 2015 results (on 24 July 2015) is re-iterated. SES’s financial guidance assumes nominal satellite health and launch schedule.
Full Year 2015 revenue is expected to be around 3% lower for revenue and EBITDA around 3.5% lower than the prior year on a constant FX basis, while growing on a reported basis. SES’s expectations for EBITDA margin are unchanged at above 82% for the infrastructure business and between 14% and 18% for the services businesses.
SES will provide an update on its future guidance with the FY 2015 results, by which time SES-9 is expected to have been launched.
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