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Sounds like an inflexion point but still a lot of work ahead...

  • 03 Feb 17

Solocal has just reported very satisfactory Q4 16 figures and commendably met its FY16 guidance. As a reminder, the group recorded strong new order performance up to last September which could finally indicate the benefits from the recent restructuring and reorganisation measures. The trend unsurprisingly slowed, however, over Q4 due to the uncertainties linked to the financial restructuring which occurred at the end of last year. Total Q4 revenues are therefore down 2% to €210m but the recurring EBITDA positively improved by 9% to €58m (i.e. an operating margin up 280bp to 27.6% versus 24.8% in Q4 15). For the full-year, the results are globally in line, with revenues reaching €812m (AV had €803m) and recurring OP at €229m (vs AV at €232m), implying a 28.2% margin (compared to 31% in FY15; we were expecting 28.9%). The FY17e guidance is for internet revenue growth at +3-5% (versus +1% in FY16) and recurring OP at €210-225m (i.e. -8% to -2%; AV at €226m), i.e. lower than in FY16 as print is still declining (around -25% likely this year after -30% in FY16; white page books stopped) and due to the product mix impact (i.e. growth engine Digital Marketing still scaling up)... FY18e guidance is for internet revenue growth accelerating to +9% and recurring EBITDA rising by 5%. Note that the financial restructuring plan has been approved by the creditors, the shareholders and the Commercial Court of Nanterre. This is expected to be implemented by mid-March 2017.