CERILLION PLC-Half-year Report

CERILLION PLC-Half-year Report

Interim results

for the six months ended 31 March 2023

Record Six-month Period and Strong Prospects

Cerillion plc, the billing, charging and customer relationship management software solutions provider, today issues its interim results for the six months ended 31 March 2023.

Financial

·    Revenue up 27% to £20.5m (H1 2022: £16.1m), reflecting ongoing major implementation projects for new customers and new orders from existing customers

·    Annualised recurring revenue1 at 31 March 2023 up 34% to £13.1m (H1 2022:  £9.8m), mainly driven by increased uptake of managed services

·    Adjusted EBITDA3 up 38% to £10.0m (H1 2022: £7.2m)

·    Adjusted profit before tax4 up 46% to £9.2m (H1 2022: £6.3m)

·    Adjusted earnings per share5 up 37% to 25.5p (H1 2022: 18.6p)

·    Back-order book2 up 8% to £43.0m (H1 2022: £39.7m)

·    Total new orders up 40% to £15.3m (H1 2022: £10.9m)

·    New customer pipeline up 23% to a record £212.0m (H1 2022: £172.0m)

·    Net cash up 43% to £23.6m (31 March 2022: £16.5m)

·    Interim dividend up 27% to 3.3p (H1 2022: 2.6p)

Operational

·    Continuing to build teams at new offices in Sofia, Bulgaria and in Ahmedabad and Indore, India

·    Two major new contracts signed in the period with existing customers, both operating in EMEA:

 10-year contract worth c. £10m, continuing a 20-year relationship and

 five-year contract worth c. £6m

·    The Board believes that the Group is well-positioned to deliver its full year targets

Louis Hall, CEO of Cerillion plc, commented:

"Cerillion's interim results again set new records for our key performance indicators in any six-month period and demonstrate the strong momentum in the business and the significant growth opportunities available.

"We continue to expand our resources and invest in the product suite. With a strong new customer sales pipeline, which includes advanced-stage contract discussions with certain potential new customers, as well as healthy demand from existing customers, we expect continuing strong growth ahead. Given the Company's progress and prospects, we believe it is well-placed to deliver our full year targets and view the future with confidence."

1 Annualised recurring revenue includes annualised support and maintenance, managed services and Cerillion Skyline revenue.

2 Back-order book of £43.0m consists of £34.7m of sales contracted but not yet recognised at the end of the reporting period plus £8.3m of annualised support and maintenance revenue. It is anticipated that 75% of the £34.7m of sales contracted but not yet recognised as at the end of the reporting period will be recognised within the next 12 to 18 months.

3 Adjusted EBITDA is a non-GAAP, Company-specific measure, which is earnings excluding finance income, finance costs, taxes, depreciation, amortisation and share-based payments charges.

4 Adjusted profit before tax is a non-GAAP, Company-specific measure, which is earnings excluding taxes, amortisation of acquired intangible assets and share-based payments charges. 

5 Adjusted earnings per share is a non-GAAP, Company-specific measure, which is earnings after taxes, excluding amortisation of acquired intangible assets and share-based payments charges divided by the average weighted number of shares in the period.

About Cerillion

Cerillion is a leading provider of mission critical software for billing, charging and customer relationship management, with a 23-year track record in providing comprehensive revenue and customer management solutions. The Company has around 80 customers across 44 countries, principally serving the telecommunications market.

The Company is headquartered in London and also has operations in India (in Pune, Ahmedabad, and Indore), Bulgaria (in Sofia) and Australia (in Sydney).

CHAIRMAN AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER'S REPORT

Overview

The Company continues to grow strongly as these excellent interim results show.  All key KPIs are at record highs for a six-month period, including revenue, profit and cash.

Revenue has increased by 27% year-on-year to £20.5m (H1 2022: £16.1m), reflecting the major implementation and upgrade projects under way with new customers and strong flows of business from existing customers, as well as an increased baseline of recurring income. Annualised recurring revenue at 31 March 2023 was 34% higher than a year ago at £13.1m (H1 2022: £9.8m), which mainly reflected the continuing trend for customers to take up managed services. Adjusted profit before tax rose by 46% to £9.2m (H1 2022:  £6.3m). Net cash at the end of March 2023 was up by 43% at £23.6m (31 March 2022: £16.5m).

Total new orders increased year-on-year by 40% to £15.3m (31 March 2022: £10.9m) and the value of the new customer sales pipeline rose by 23% to £212m (31 March 2022: £172m).  We are in advanced discussions with certain potential new customers and expect new customer contracts to come through in the second half and beyond.

To accommodate the Company's growth, we have continued to develop our resource base. The new office in Sofia, Bulgaria has now grown to a team of over 20 delivery consultants, and we have added to the teams established at our new satellite offices in India, in Ahmedabad and Indore. In Ahmedabad, we are focusing on recruiting support resources, whilst in Indore, we are building a team of digital customer experience developers. This continues our policy of aiming to source the best people while also managing the cost base effectively, particularly given inflationary pressures.

From a market perspective, we are continuing to see strong investment in 5G and broadband infrastructure. This will create substantial opportunities for Cerillion as communications service providers seek to monetise those new assets and gain more value from their network real estate.

Looking ahead over the balance of the current financial year, we remain very confident of continuing progress, supported by our strong back-order book and new customer sales pipeline.

Financial Overview

Revenue for the six months ended 31 March 2023 increased by 27% to £20.5m (H1 2022: £16.1m), which reflected the strong opening back-order book, including ongoing major implementation projects, and new orders from existing customers.

The mix of revenue was more weighted towards Software1 compared to the prior period, with Software revenue of £10.5m accounting for 51% of total revenue (H1 2022: £6.1m and 38% of total revenue). This was a 72% rise year-on-year and mainly reflected the timing of software licence recognition. Services revenue1 of £8.9m made up 44% of total revenue (H1 2022: £9.0m and 56% of total revenue). Other revenue of £1.0m accounted for 5% of total revenue (H1 2022: £1.0m and 6% of total revenue).

Gross margin for the period increased to 81.5% (H1 2022: 78.5%). This rise principally reflected the higher proportion of software licence revenue recognised, as well as a favourable impact from foreign exchange rates. Whilst headcount increased in all regions to support growth, our focus on building resources in India and Bulgaria helped to reduce overall payroll inflation across the Group.

Existing customers (those customers acquired at least 12 months before the end of the reporting period) made up a high proportion of the Group's revenue, as is typical, and generated 89% of total revenue in the period (H1 2022: 91%).

Recurring revenue2, from support and maintenance and managed service contracts, grew by 36% to £6.5m (H1 2022: £4.8m) and accounted for 32% of the Group's revenue (H1 2022: 30%). The rise largely reflected increased uptake of managed services, from both new and existing customer deployments, and support and maintenance fee increments.  Annualised recurring revenue at the end of March 2023 increased by 34% year-on-year to £13.1m (31 March 2022: £9.8m).

As expected, operating expenses increased to £8.3m (H1 2022: £7.0m), an 18% rise. The main factors behind the rise were higher headcount, higher sales commission and the effect of foreign exchange rates. On a constant currency basis, operating expenses increased by 13%.

Adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation ("EBITDA"), which excludes share based payments charges, rose by 38% to £10.0m (H1 2022: £7.2m). Statutory EBITDA increased by 39% to £9.9m (H1 2022: £7.1m).

Adjusted profit before tax3 rose by 46% to £9.2m (H1 2022: £6.3m) and adjusted earnings per share4 was 37% higher at 25.5p (H1 2022: 18.6p). Statutory profit before tax increased by 52% to £8.6m (H1 2022: £5.7m), and statutory earnings per share increased by 43% to 23.5p (H1 2022: 16.4p).

The balance sheet remains strong.  Net assets rose by 38% to £31.8m as at 31 March 2023 (31 March 2022: £23.0m).

Cash Flow and Banking

Net cash at 31 March 2023 increased by 43% to £23.6m (31 March 2022: £16.5m), with no debt in either periods. Net cash generated from operations in the period was £6.6m (H1 2022: £6.5m).

Development costs of £0.6m were capitalised in the period (H1 2022: £0.5m) after investment to further enhance the Company's intellectual property.

Expenditure on fixed assets was £0.2m (H1 2022: £0.1m).

Free cash generation in the period was broadly maintained at £5.8m (H1 2022: £5.9m), principally reflecting the higher profit, offset by an increase in working capital due to the higher software licence revenue recognised.  Cash generated in the period was partly utilised to pay the final dividend of £1.9m (H1 2022: £1.5m) in respect of the year ended 30 September 2022.

Dividend

The Board is pleased to declare an increased interim dividend of 3.3p per share (H1 2022: 2.6p), a 27% rise year-on-year. The interim dividend will become payable on 23 June 2023 to those shareholders on the Company's register as at the close of business on the record date of 2 June 2023. The ex-dividend date is 1 June 2023.

As previously stated, the Board aims to distribute between a third to a half of the Group's free cash flow as dividends each year, subject to the Group's performance and the Board's assessment of the trading environment.

Operational Overview

Demand from the existing customer base was very healthy over the first half, with new orders from existing customers up by 40% to £15.3m (H1 2022: £10.9m). These new orders included additional modules, software licence expansions, scope expansions on implementation projects, upgrade programmes and managed services. We were particularly pleased to agree a major new 10-year contract worth £10 million with an existing customer with operations in EMEA, continuing a 20 year-relationship. We also signed a £6 million agreement, which has a five-year term, with another EMEA customer. The new customer sales pipeline grew strongly, up 23%, to £212m as at 31 March 2023 (31 March 2022: £172m), and with certain discussions at an advanced stage, we expect to close new customer orders in the second half and beyond.

The back-order book stood at a very healthy level of £43.0m at 31 March 2023 (31 March 2022: £39.7m), buoyed by new orders. These contracted (but not yet recognised) orders will drive revenues over the coming quarters. It is also very encouraging to see the Group's base of recurring revenue increase as the business grows and both new and existing customers take up managed services and support and maintenance contracts. We expect this trend to continue.

The BSS/OSS5 solutions that we provide remain a core requirement for telecommunications operators and service providers, and substantial investment in 5G and fibre rollout continues to drive investment in replacing, upgrading and improving BSS/OSS solutions. This is done in order to drive more revenue from the network infrastructure real estate, with BSS/OSS solutions providing the bridge between network and customer and hence monetisation. The importance of the solutions that the Company provides is illustrated in a survey6 of communications service providers, published by Gartner, the US-based technological research and consulting firm, in April 2023. The survey cites the following as priorities for software investments, all of which are enabled by the Company's solutions:

In order to enhance our product offering and our competitive positioning, we continue to invest in R&D and issue two major product releases a year. These provide new features and improvements to existing functionality. This year, we expect to invest a total of approximately 12,000 man-days in R&D.

We have also continued to expand and develop our teams, as noted above, adding new and experienced talent in the UK, Bulgaria and India.

Outlook

The business has made strong progress and is very well placed in a growing marketplace. Our 'productised', 'as-a-service' approach stands out, and the quality, breadth and completeness of our solutions provides us with strong competitive differentiation.

We believe that Cerillion remains well-positioned to achieve its full year targets, supported by existing major implementation projects, the healthy back-order book, and our strong new customer pipeline, which includes a number of advanced-stage new contract discussions.

The Company's robust balance sheet, which carries no debt, and the increasing level of recurring income, provide a strong underpinning for the business as it continues to grow and develop. The Board views near and mid-term growth prospects very positively.

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