SES REPORTS CONTINUED GROWTH BOOSTED BY NEW MARKETS

27.07.2012

Luxembourg, 27 July 2012 – SES S.A. (NYSE Euronext Paris and Luxembourg Stock Exchange: SESG) reports financial results for the six months ended 30 June 2012.

FINANCIAL HIGHLIGHT

  • Revenue of EUR 891.9 million
    • An increase of 4.8% over the prior year, +1.4% at constant exchange rates (“constant FX”)
  •  EBITDA of EUR 665.1 million
    • An increase of 5.3% over the prior year, +2.1% at constant FX
    • EBITDA margin of 74.6% (H1 2011: 74.2%)
  • Operating profit rose 2.4% to EUR 411.5 million (H1 2011: EUR 402.0 million)
  •  Profit of the group EUR 298.7 million (H1 2011: EUR 292.1 million)
  •  Earnings per A-share of EUR 0.74  (H1 2011: EUR 0.74)
  •  Closing net debt / EBITDA multiple of 3.07
  •  Contract backlog maintained at the first quarter level of EUR 6.8 billion

 

Romain Bausch, President and CEO, commented:

"SES continues on its growth track and is well positioned to develop its business in the world's emerging markets.

SES is reporting solid half year results in line with our expectations. The switch-off of analogue satellite TV broadcasts in Germany took place, as scheduled, at the end of April. The remarketing of the newly available capacity is on track, and HD channel growth is, as projected, an important driver of demand for this capacity.

The SES-4 satellite, launched in February, completed in-orbit testing and entered commercial service in mid-April. SES-4 carries replacement and new capacity for Europe and Africa and provides full coverage of the Americas, plus a global beam to support mobile and maritime customers. High-power, regional beams provide service to Europe, the Middle East, and West Africa, as well as North and South America.

The SES-5 satellite was launched on 9 July and is presently undergoing in-orbit testing before entering commercial service, which is foreseen to be in the third quarter. SES-5 will serve markets in Africa and in Europe."

Financial Review

Reported revenue in the six months increased by 4.8% to EUR 891.9 million, while reported EBITDA grew by 5.3% to EUR 665.1 million. On a constant FX basis, revenue rose 1.4%, contributing to an increase in EBITDA of 2.1%. Operating expenses increased EUR 6.9 million (a reduction of EUR 1.2 million on a constant FX basis) over the prior year, driven by the increased cost of sales resulting from the strong performance from services activities.  Excluding this impact, operating costs were flat, year-on-year. The group's EBITDA margin for the first six months was 74.6%, derived from an infrastructure margin of 83.6% and a services margin of 15.0%.

Depreciation rose year-on-year, driven mainly by fleet additions and the stronger U.S. dollar as well as by an impairment charge in the first quarter of EUR 3 million. Reported operating profit rose 2.4% to EUR 411.5 million. Net financing costs were EUR 19.2 million higher than the prior year period, reflecting lower foreign exchange gains in the current period.  This has been offset by a lower tax charge and elimination of discontinued operations.  As a result, the profit of the group increased 2.3% from EUR 292.1 million to EUR 298.7 million.

Net operating cash flow, at EUR 593.2 million, was 20.3% above the prior year level, resulting from changes in operating assets and liabilities, and lower outflows from investing activities also contributed to the strong growth in free cash flow before financing activities.

SES' contract backlog remained stable at the first quarter 2012 level of EUR 6.8 billion.

At 30 June, the net debt/EBITDA ratio stood at 3.07 times, compared to 3.12 times at 31 December 2011.

Operations Review

The principal events in the period were the successful launch and entry into service of the SES-4 satellite and the scheduled switch-off of analogue satellite TV in Germany at the end of April which occurred as scheduled. Follow-on digital services, many in High Definition, began on eight of the 29 'analogue' transponders.

Europe

European revenues, on a constant FX basis, were flat compared to the prior year period.   Available satellite capacity increased by 32 transponders compared to H1 2011, driven by ASTRA 1F (+16) at 55°E and ASTRA 1N (+16) at 28.2°E.  Utilisation decreased by 9 transponders.  This net figure is the result of the end of analogue transmissions in Germany  (-32) and the end of cable contracts at 23.5°E (-12), largely compensated by new transponder contracts for DTH and other applications (+35). The overall utilisation rate in the region stood at 81.4%  at the end of June.  Average revenue per utilised transponder remains strong, with a modest dilution impact resulting from the mix of new incremental capacity and the termination of analogue transmissions.

In Europe, steady progress was made as the transponder capacity formerly used for analogue transmissions to the German language market became available for new customers.  A majority of this recommercialised capacity is being contracted to serve this market, with HD offerings continuing to represent a major demand driver.

HD+, the platform for HD Free-To-Air broadcasts in Germany, has continued to develop strongly.  With the addition of Super RTL HD and DMAX, there are now 14 HD channels available on the platform.  As of the end of June, there were over 2.6 million active HD+ households.  Of these, over 634,000 are paying customers of HD+.  The balance are HD+ users in the initial 12 month free trial period.  The company expects the number of households paying the annual EUR 50 technical access fee to exceed one million by the end of the year.

BSkyB and FreeSat announced their plans to broadcast 48 dedicated channels, in Standard and in High Definition, covering the London Olympics in July and August.  Separately, Eurosport announced that it will be broadcasting the London Olympics in 3D, using capacity at 19.2°E for Europe.

The new French sports channels, BeIN Sport 1 and BeIN Sport 2, are now broadcast throughout France from 19.2°E as part of the CanalSat and the Orange TV offerings.

SES unveiled the Sat>IP application.  Sat>IP is an open source platform which converts the digital satellite signal received at the home into an IP stream which, when distributed via WiFi, can be received on any suitably configured WiFi-enabled device.  With the increasing use of portable devices, this simple application, which enables users to receive satellite TV programmes on mobile devices, brings vastly enhanced flexibility and fixes satellite at the centre of the home entertainment experience.  Sat>IP is expected to become an integral feature of future set-top boxes.

North America

North American revenues, on a constant FX basis, decreased by 2.4% compared to the prior year period. Apart from the AMC-15 and AMC-16 satellite health-related impact, North American revenues were relatively flat compared to H1 2011.   Available satellite capacity reduced by 28 transponders compared to H1 2011, resulting from AMC-15 (-10), AMC-16 (-4) and AMC-6 (-12) C-band capacity changes.  In addition, two AMC-6 transponders were switched to serve the Latin American region.  Utilised capacity reduced by 5 transponders compared to the prior year period as new business (+9) offset the reduction (-14) of capacity on the AMC-15 and AMC-16 spacecraft, resulting in a utilisation rate of 77.6%.  Average revenue per utilised transponder remains stable.

In March, ITC Global signed a renewal agreement, securing its oil & gas and maritime markets in the Gulf of Mexico, utilising capacity on the AMC-9 satellite.

In April, Encompass Digital Media, a leading digital media service provider, signed a capacity deal making NASA TV channels available to satellite TV providers and cable outlets throughout the United States.  As part of the multi-year agreement, Encompass is utilising a full transponder of C-band capacity on SES' AMC-18 satellite to uplink three full-time NASA TV channels (two in High Definition and one in Standard Definition) to cable systems in all 50 states.

International

International revenues increased by 8.0% over H1 2011 on a constant FX basis.  Available satellite capacity increased by 101 transponders compared to H1 2011.  The capacity growth was driven by the YahLive payload on YahSat 1A (+23), QuetzSat-1 (+32), SES-4 (+27), AMC-3 relocation to 67°W (+16), the shift of AMC-6 (+2) capacity into Latin America, and a satellite payload reconfiguration (+1).   Utilisation increased by 48 transponders compared to H1 2011, resulting in an overall utilisation rate of 74.2%.  Average revenue per utilised transponder remains stable.

In Africa and the Middle East, a major capacity deal was signed with ICCES.  The agreement includes 116 MHz of Ku-band capacity on the SES-4 satellite, to support the extension of VSAT services to serve new markets across the region.

In Africa, new contracts were signed with the African telecommunications carrier, Gateway Communications Africa, for capacity on the NSS-703 satellite at 313°E and the NSS-5 and NSS-7 satellites positioned at 340°E, to start in H2 2012. The additional capacity will allow Gateway Communications to expand its business with mobile network operators and internet service providers on the African continent.

In the Americas, the 67°W orbital position was reinforced as the AMC-3 satellite was relocated from 87°W to join AMC-4.  Together, the two spacecraft can offer up to 28 Ku-band transponders at 67°W to support multiple applications across the region.  Media Networks Latin America, a division of Telefonica, subsequently signed a long term capacity agreement at 67°W to expand its Pay-TV service across Central America and the Caribbean.

Brazil's Rede Novo Tempo de Comunicação renewed and expanded its long-term capacity agreement for video and radio broadcasting to audiences throughout Latin America, the Caribbean, North America and Western Europe.  The programming will initially continue on NSS 806, transferring to SES-6 following its launch in early 2013.

In Kazakhstan, 2Day Telecom contracted an incremental 18 MHz on the NSS-12 satellite for backhaul services on its GSM network across the country.

In the Philippines, Mediascape signed an agreement to enable expansion of  its Standard and High Definition programming line-up.  The company has added capacity on both SES-7 and NSS-11 for the growing DTH neighbourhood at 108.2°E, to ramp up Cignal TV's Direct-to-Home (DTH) offering to 15 High Definition (HD) channels and 51 Standard Definition (SD) channels, up from 9 HD channels and 37 SD channels in 2011.

Telikom PNG renewed its contract for satellite capacity on NSS-9 at 183°E and on NSS-6 at 95°E for GSM network support across Papua New Guinea. In total, Telikom PNG currently contracts more than 100 MHz in capacity with SES.

The SES-4 satellite was launched in February and entered service in mid-April.  With a payload of 124 transponders across the C- and Ku-bands, this large satellite replaces NSS-7 and adds 27 transponders at the valuable 338°E orbital position.  The satellite features several dedicated regional beams offering substantially expanded Ku-band coverage of EMEA, Western Africa and South America.  Some of the new capacity has already been contracted, while other agreements are in the process of being finalised.

The total Group transponder utilisation at the end of June was 77.0%, representing 1,042 of the 1,354 transponders commercially available.

Other Developments

O3b Networks

O3b Networks is on schedule to launch its first 8 satellites in the first half of 2013, with service due to start shortly thereafter.  As the project moves closer to start of service, interest among potential customers is building.  In July, O3b Networks announced that it is collaborating with Harris Caprock Communications to implement and maintain O3b Maritime for Royal Caribbean Cruises to supply broadband connectivity to its flagship cruiser, Oasis of the Seas, in the Caribbean.

Satellite Health

SES operates a number of spacecraft which are susceptible to solar array circuit failures.  No additional circuit failures have occurred since the early April event, details of which were announced with the first quarter trading statement.

Forthcoming Launches in 2012

One further satellite is scheduled for launch this year. The ASTRA 2F satellite is scheduled to be launched in September from the European Spaceport in French Guiana, carrying replacement capacity for the 28.2°E orbital position, a Ka-band payload for Europe/Middle East, and 12 high power Ku-band transponders to serve sub-Saharan Africa.

Recent Developments

SES' 51st satellite, SES-5, was successfully launched on board a Proton rocket on 9 July and is presently undergoing in-orbit testing. The satellite will provide 64 transponders of new capacity – 12 in Ku-band for Europe and 52 (24 Ku-Band and 28 C-band) for Africa. Commercial service start date is expected to be in September.

Outlook and Guidance

The business outlook is for continued growth, in particular in Western European TV markets and for a range of applications in the emerging markets that are the focus of SES' new capacity that will be launched.  SES is well positioned to serve the demand in these regions.  SES reiterates guidance (at constant exchange rates) for revenue and EBITDA growth of approximately 2% and 2.5%, respectively, in 2012 and for a 3 year revenue and EBITDA CAGR of approximately 4.5% in the 2012-2014 period.

SES' trading update for the three months to 30th September 2012 will be published on Friday, 9th  November  2012.

 

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For further information:  

Mark Roberts
Investor Relations                 
Tel. +352 710 725 490
Mark.Roberts@ses.com     

 

Yves Feltes
Media Relations
Tel. +352 710 725 311
Yves.Feltes@ses.com

 

Additional information is available on our website www.ses.com

TELECONFERENCES

A call for members of the press will be hosted at 11.00 CEST today, 27 July 2012. Participants are invited to call the following numbers five minutes prior to this time.

Belgium                         +32 (0)2 620 0137

France                          +33 (0)1 70 48 01 63

Germany                      +49 (0)69 2222 34066

Luxembourg                 +352 2088 1424

UK                                 +44 (0)20 3106 7162

Confirmation Code:      5853784

A call for investors and analysts will be hosted at 14.00 CEST today, 27 July 2012. Participants are invited to call the following numbers five minutes prior to this time.

Belgium                         +32 (0)2 789 2126

France                          +33 (0)1 70 99 43 00

Germany                      +49 (0)89 1214 00699

Luxembourg                 +352 342 080 8570

UK                                 +44 (0)20 7136 2051

USA                              +1 646 254 3360

Confirmation Code:      4966421

A presentation, which will be referred to during the calls, will be available for download from the Investor Relations section of our website www.ses.com

A replay will be available for one week on our website: www.ses.com

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