Munich, Germany, 31 March 2021 – The Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting global travel warnings and restrictions had a massive impact on HolidayCheck Group AG in the financial year 2020. Above all, demand for package holidays collapsed almost entirely. Despite a temporary recovery in demand for hotels and package holidays over the second and third quarters of the year under review, bookings picked up only slightly and even in this period remained well below 2019 levels.
At the same time, many bookings made in 2019 and in the first quarter of 2020 for holidays in 2020 had to be cancelled. As a precautionary measure, to avoid a similar situation in the financial year 2021 as far as possible, 69 percent of booking sales received in the fourth quarter of 2020 for holidays departing in 2021 has not been recorded as revenue.
All this contributed to a substantial decline in the HolidayCheck Group's revenue and earnings in the year under review.
In financial 2020, driven by the need to protect its liquidity position, HolidayCheck Group AG responded by implementing a series of comprehensive cost-saving measures in every area. At the same time, partly through the sale of its Dutch subsidiaries and a successful cash capital increase in February 2021, the company took steps to ensure that the Group maintains a solid financial base in the current year.
For reasons of transparency, the company has decided to report its income figures in both unadjusted and adjusted form (i.e. after excluding significant out-of-period items). Furthermore, the observations in the following section relate solely to the Group's continuing operations. The figures for the previous year have been adjusted to allow comparison.
At EUR 14.5 million, unadjusted revenue was down 89.1 percent compared with EUR 133.0 million in 2019. This decline was mainly due to cancellations of previously booked holidays (see above) and to the general downturn that followed the introduction of widespread travel restrictions linked to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Adjusted revenue, excluding the impact of cancellations attributable to financial 2019, was down 79.6 percent at EUR 27.1 million.
Unadjusted gross margin for financial 2020 amounted to EUR 7.3 million, down 94.4 percent compared with EUR 131.2 million in financial 2019.
Adjusted gross margin for 2020 was down 84.8 percent at EUR 19.9 million.
Gross margin is defined as sales revenue less cost of goods sold (COGS), i.e. advance purchases of holiday services (such as expenses for hotels, flights and transfer services) by the Group’s in-house tour operator HC Touristik.
Unadjusted marketing expenses fell by 87.1 percent from EUR 66.7 million in 2019 to EUR 8.6 million. The main factors here were lower voucher costs and the almost complete suspension of marketing activities following announcements in mid-March 2020 that Covid-19 was spreading.
Adjusted marketing expenses was down 79.6 percent at EUR 13.6 million.
Personnel expenses fell by 23.3 percent from EUR 34.9 million in 2019 to EUR 26.7 million.
Although personnel expenses in financial 2020 were kept down by government short-time working subsidies, this reduction was partly offset by restructuring costs linked to the termination of employment contracts.
Other expenses in financial 2020 totalled EUR 15.5 million, down 33.7 percent compared with the figure of EUR 23.4 million in the previous year. This reduction was mainly achieved through general cost-saving measures.
Unadjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) amounted to minus EUR 37.7 million in financial 2020 compared with EUR 6.3 million in the previous year.
Adjusted EBITDA was minus EUR 30.4 million.
Unadjusted operating EBITDA (operating earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) for 2020 was minus EUR 35.9 million compared with EUR 6.8 million in 2019.
The figure for adjusted operating EBITDA in financial 2020 was minus EUR 28.7 million.
Unadjusted EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) amounted to minus EUR 45.5 million in financial 2020 compared with minus EUR 2.0 million in the previous year.
Adjusted EBIT came to minus EUR 38.2 million.
At minus EUR 0.3 million, the Group's financial result in 2020 was roughly on a par with the previous year.
Unadjusted EBT (earnings before taxes) amounted to minus EUR 45.8 million in financial 2020 compared with minus EUR 2.4 million in the previous year.
The figure for adjusted EBT was minus EUR 38.6 million.
Unadjusted consolidated net profit/(loss) from continuing operations was minus EUR 40.9 million (2019: minus EUR 3.3 million).
The figure for adjusted consolidated net profit/(loss) from continuing operations was minus EUR 33.7 million.
Consolidated net profit/(loss) from discontinued operations totalled minus EUR 31.6 million in financial 2020 (2019: minus EUR 1.3 million). This figure represents the loss incurred on withdrawal from the Dutch market.
The overall figure for unadjusted consolidated net profit/(loss) in 2020 was minus EUR 72.5 million (2019: minus EUR 4.6 million).
The total adjusted consolidated net profit/(loss) for 2020 was minus EUR 65.3 million.
Unadjusted diluted and basic earnings per share from continuing operations amounted to minus EUR 0.71 in financial 2020 compared with minus EUR 0.06 in the previous year.
The figure for adjusted diluted and basic earnings per share from continuing operations in 2020 was minus EUR 0.58.
Diluted and basic earnings per share from discontinued operations were minus EUR 0.55 in financial 2020 compared with minus EUR 0.02 in the previous year.
Total unadjusted diluted and basic earnings per share amounted to minus EUR 1.26 in financial 2020 (2019: minus EUR 0.08).
Total adjusted diluted and basic earnings per share for 2020 were minus EUR 1.13.
Looking ahead at 2021 as a whole, overall results in the travel sector will depend very largely on whether and, if so, to what extent people are able to go on holiday, especially during the summer months that generate the greatest share of annual sales revenue. The crucial factor here is whether the rate of Covid-19 infections – in particular with regard to the emergence and spread of new virus mutations – can be reduced to a level that allows governments to relax or even lift the current national and international travel warnings and restrictions. Results will also depend on the extent to which holidaymakers in the German-speaking region are willing to travel again.
Until we are able to produce a more precise forecast of travel patterns for the current financial year, the HolidayCheck Group will maintain a rigorous focus on its costs and liquidity. At the same time, the company will put its energy into the ongoing development of products such as HolidayCheck Flex.
At present, given the continued high level of uncertainty over the likely course of the Covid-19 pandemic in the coming months, it is not possible to offer a quantitative forecast for gross margin and operating EBITDA in the current financial year. Instead, based on our forward plans, we have drawn up two scenarios – one negative and one positive. These stand at each end of the range within which our actual results will probably lie on the basis of the information currently available. The scenarios make different assumptions about the impact of Covid-19 in terms of duration and intensity.
In the positive (best-case) scenario, the Management Board of HolidayCheck Group AG believes it is possible that demand will recover from the second half of 2021 in the core sales markets targeted by our holiday portals, above all in the package holiday market.
If such a recovery materialises, the Management Board expects the HolidayCheck Group’s gross margin (sales revenue less cost of goods sold (COGS)/advance purchases of holiday services) to at least double compared with the figure for 2020. Even so, it is likely that gross margin will remain significantly below the pre-crisis level of 2019.
By contrast, assuming a negative (worst-case) scenario in which Covid-19 infection rates remain high throughout the year and cannot be reduced even by an ongoing population-wide vaccination programme, it is probable that the current national and international travel restrictions and warnings will remain in place and that holidays will either not be possible or will be subject to very tight restrictions.
In this case, the Management Board expects the HolidayCheck Group’s gross margin for 2021 to be roughly on a par with the figure for 2020.
With regard to operating EBITDA, the Management Board anticipates a year-on-year improvement whichever of the scenarios proves to be more accurate.
The Management Board also believes that the desire to travel will return quickly once the coronavirus pandemic is behind us. As such, over the medium and long term, there is enormous potential for growth in holiday sales across the Central European market, especially online. In the view of the Management Board, the HolidayCheck Group is ideally positioned to achieve above-average growth based on this trend.
About HolidayCheck Group AG:
HolidayCheck Group AG (ISIN DE005495329), Munich, Germany, is one of Europe’s leading digital firms for recreational holiday. With a total workforce of around 300, HolidayCheck Group AG comprises HolidayCheck AG (which operates hotel review and travel booking portals by the same name), HC Touristik GmbH (which operates the tour operator HolidayCheck Reisen), and Driveboo AG (which operates the car rental portals MietwagenCheck and Driveboo). HolidayCheck Group’s vision is to become the world’s most holidaymaker-friendly company in the world.