Axel Springer CFO expects double-digit sales growth in 2021 despite pandemic

BERLIN (Reuters) - Axel Springer’s chief financial officer Julian Deutz sees big things ahead for the German media group, especially in the key U.S. market, as the company had not been impacted by the pandemic as seriously as it had expected, he told Reuters.

“We expect double-digit growth in sales in 2021, which is one of the highest growth rates since we went public in 1985,” he said, adding that the rate has surpassed pre-pandemic levels.

“We are an in even better position in 2021 in regards to revenue and EBITDA than we had expected in 2019, when KKR entered,” he added, referring to the U.S. fund.

Axel Springer’s revenue fell by almost 5%, to 2.97 billion euros, and its adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation fell by 13%, to 653.8 million euros, in the first year of the pandemic, according to the company’s 2020 financial report, which was seen by Reuters.

The U.S. market has been especially important in powering growth over the past 18 months, he said, and Axel Springer’s investments in job application technology firm AppCast and newsletter provider Morning Brew had surpassed expectations.

“The U.S. business is booming and will account for an increasingly stronger share of our revenue,” Deutz said.

Currently, the U.S. business accounts for about 20%.

While Axel Springer does look at acquisition and takeover opportunities, Deutz said, one the size of U.S. news company Politico are not on the radar in the short term.

Deutz also said that Axel Springer was able to almost completely make up for losses in the print business with growth in its digital offerings in Germany and internationally in 2020.

Reporting by Klaus Lauer, Writing by Miranda Murray; editing by David Evans