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iHeartmedia, Inc. Reports Results for 2021 Fourth Quarter and Full Year

NEW YORK, February 23, 2022--(BUSINESS WIRE)--iHeartMedia, Inc. (Nasdaq: IHRT) today reported financial results for the quarter and year ended December 31, 2021.

Financial Highlights:

Q4 2021 Consolidated Results

  • Q4 Revenue of $1,062 million up 14% YoY; exceeding prior guidance of up approximately 10%

  • Excluding the impact of Political, Q4 revenue was up 25% YoY

  • Q4 2021 Consolidated Revenue up 3.5% vs. Q4 2019

  • GAAP Operating income of $123 million increased 9% vs. $113 million in Q4 2020

  • Consolidated Adjusted EBITDA of $294 million increased 11% YoY

Q4 2021 Digital Audio Group Delivers Strong Growth and Profit Trajectory

  • Digital Audio Group Revenue up 59% YoY

  • Podcast Revenue up 130% YoY

  • Digital Revenue excluding Podcast up 36% YoY

  • Segment Adjusted EBITDA of $99 million increased 65% YoY; and up from $67 million in Q3 2021

  • Digital Audio Group Adjusted EBITDA margin of 36%, up 137 bps from 35% in Q4 2020 and up 369 bps from 33% in Q3 2021

Q4 2021 Multiplatform Group Momentum Accelerates

  • Multiplatform Group Revenue up 9% YoY

  • Excluding the impact of Political, Q4 revenue was up 17% YoY

  • Q4 2021 down 14% vs Q4 2019 -- continuing trend of sequential quarterly improvement vs. 2019

  • Segment Adjusted EBITDA of $249 million increased 20% YoY; and up from $208 million in Q3 2021

  • Multiplatform Group Adjusted EBITDA margin of 34%, up 317 bps from 31% in Q4 2020 and up 262 bps from 32% in Q3 2021

Free Cash Flow Generation and Proactive Capital Structure Improvements

  • Generated Cash Flows from operating activities of $134 million

  • Generated Free Cash Flow of $52 million

  • Capital Expenditures of $82 million vs. $50 million in Q3 2021, driven primarily by accelerated real estate consolidation

  • Cash balance and total available liquidity1 of $352 million and $775 million, respectively, as of December 31, 2021

  • Term loan reduced by $250 million (July); $60 million Preferred repurchased (October)

Guidance

  • January Consolidated Revenue up approximately 18.3% YoY

  • Q1 Consolidated Revenue expected to increase by approximately 17%-19% YoY

  • Expect to make significant progress in 2022 towards the previously announced net debt to adjusted EBITDA ("net leverage") target of approximately 4x

Full Year 2021 Highlights

  • Revenue of $3,558 million, up 21% YoY; excluding political Revenue2, Revenue increased 27% YoY, driven by growth across Multiplatform Group and Digital Audio Group

  • Multiplatform Group Revenue up 13% YoY

  • Digital Audio Group Revenue up 76% YoY

  • GAAP Operating income of $155 million was up from a loss of $1,738 million in the year ended December 31, 2020, which included non-cash impairment charges and the impact of COVID-19

  • Consolidated Adjusted EBITDA of $811 million, up from $539 million in the year ended December 31, 2020

  • Generated Cash Flows from operating activities of $331 million and Free Cash Flow of $147 million

Statement from Senior Management

"We are pleased to report another strong quarter and to wrap up a very strong year, further evidence of our momentum and the continuing digital transformation of iHeartMedia into a data-led, digital business with important new platforms like podcasting built on the unparalleled scale and audience reach of our broadcast radio assets," said Bob Pittman, Chairman and CEO of iHeartMedia, Inc. "We believe that this strong performance in Q4 and full year positions us well for continued growth in 2022."

"Bob and I are pleased to report that our strong top line growth continues to be coupled with margin expansion, generating Adjusted EBITDA of $294 million in the fourth quarter. We remain confident that we will continue to grow revenue going forward and, combined with our strict cost discipline, that we will continue to generate profit and Free Cash Flow as we remain focused on reducing our net leverage to approximately 4x," said Rich Bressler, President, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of iHeartMedia, Inc.

Consolidated Results of Operations

Fourth Quarter 2021 Consolidated Results

Our consolidated revenue increased $126.5 million, or 13.5%, during the three months ended December 31, 2021 compared to the same period of 2020. The increase in Consolidated revenue is attributable to the continued recovery from the macroeconomic effects of COVID-19 and the continuing growth of our operating businesses. Multiplatform revenue increased $61.3 million, or 9.2%, primarily resulting from strengthening demand for broadcast advertising compared to the fourth quarter of 2020, partially offset by lower political advertising revenue compared to the same period of 2020, which was a presidential election year. Digital Audio revenue increased $101.1 million, or 58.7%, driven primarily by continuing increases in demand for digital advertising and the continued growth of podcasting. Audio & Media Services revenue decreased $34.7 million due to lower political advertising revenue, partially offset by the continued recovery from the impact of COVID-19.

Consolidated direct operating expenses increased $56.7 million, or 17.2%, during the three months ended December 31, 2021 compared to the same period of 2020, primarily as a result of the expenses directly associated with the significant increase in revenue. The increase in direct operating expenses was driven primarily by higher content and talent and profit sharing expenses, third-party digital costs, and costs related to the return of local and national live events. The increase in Consolidated direct operating expenses was partially offset by lower employee compensation and other expenses resulting from our modernization and cost-reduction initiatives executed in 2020 and 2021.

Consolidated Selling, General & Administrative ("SG&A") expenses increased $37.5 million, or 10.0%, during the three months ended December 31, 2021 compared to the same period of 2020. The increase in Consolidated SG&A expenses was driven primarily by increased employee compensation expenses resulting primarily from higher variable bonus expense based on financial performance and higher sales commission expenses as a result of higher revenue. In the prior year the Company did not pay bonuses to the vast majority of employees. In addition, increased headcount resulting from investments in our digital businesses contributed to the increase in Consolidated SG&A expenses. These increases were partially offset by lower trade expense due to the timing of expenses incurred in connection with the iHeartRadio Music Festival, as well as decreases in employee compensation and other expenses resulting from modernization and cost-reduction initiatives taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our consolidated GAAP Operating income was $123.0 million as compared to Operating income of $112.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2020, which was driven by the continued recovery from the impact of COVID-19 on our businesses.

Adjusted EBITDA increased to $294.2 million compared to $265.5 million in the prior-year period.

The Company generated operating cash flow of $134.0 million, compared to $79.8 million provided by operating cash flow in the prior-year period and generated Free Cash Flow of $51.9 million, compared to $53.1 million in the prior-year period. During the quarter, we deployed significant capital expenditures to accelerate real estate consolidation aimed at reducing our structural cost base. This initiative has made certain real estate assets redundant, also enabling the Company to sell such assets to partially fund the initiative’s gross capital expenditures. When such targeted real estate proceeds are included as an offset to gross capital expenditures, the Company generated $53.0 million.

New Reportable Segments

Beginning on January 1, 2021, we began reporting our financial statements based on three reportable segments: iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group, which includes all of our Digital assets including Podcasting; the iHeartMedia Multiplatform Group, which includes our Broadcast radio, Networks and Sponsorships and Events businesses; and our Audio & Media Services Group. These reporting segments reflect how senior management views the Company, and align with certain leadership and organizational changes implemented in the first quarter of 2021. This structure provides improved visibility into the underlying performances, results, and margin profiles of our distinct businesses, and enables senior management to better monitor trends at the operational level and address opportunities or issues as they arise via regular review of segment-level results and forecasts with operational leaders. The Company expects that the Digital Audio segment will continue to grow at a higher rate than our other segments and is therefore expected to become a larger part of our business over time.

Additionally, beginning on January 1, 2021, Segment Adjusted EBITDA became the segment profitability metric reported to the Company's Chief Operating Decision Maker for purposes of making decisions about allocation of resources to, and assessing performance of, each reportable segment. Segment Adjusted EBITDA is calculated as Revenue less operating expenses, excluding Restructuring expenses.

Business Segments: Results of Operations

Fourth Quarter 2021 Multiplatform Group Results

(In thousands)

Three Months Ended
December 31,

%

Year Ended
December 31,

%

2021

2020

Change

2021

2020

Change

Revenue

$

726,292

$

665,031

9.2

%

$

2,489,018

$

2,206,854

12.8

%

Operating expenses1

477,573

458,355

4.2

%

1,745,680

1,723,449

1.3

%

Segment Adjusted EBITDA

$

248,719

$

206,676

20.3

%

$

743,338

$

483,405

53.8

%

Segment Adjusted EBITDA margin

34.2

%

31.1

%

29.9

%

21.9

%

1

Operating expenses consist of Direct operating expenses and Selling, general and administrative expenses, excluding Restructuring Expenses.

Revenue from our Multiplatform Group increased $61.3 million, or 9.2% YoY, primarily as a result of continued business recovery from the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Broadcast revenue grew $24.4 million, or 4.9% YoY, while Networks grew $1.4 million, or 1.0% YoY. Revenue from Sponsorship and Events increased by $32.1 million, or 92.7% YoY, primarily as a result of the return of live events. These increases were partially offset by a $43.6 million decrease in political revenue compared to the same period in 2020, which was a presidential election year. Excluding the impact of political revenue, Revenue from our Multiplatform Group increased by 17.1% YoY for the three months ended December 31, 2021.

Operating expenses increased $19.2 million, or 4.2% YoY, driven primarily by higher variable employee compensation expenses, including commission and bonus expense, as well as higher talent and profit-sharing fees, both as a result of higher revenue, and higher expenses related to the return of live events, which were partially offset by lower trade expenses resulting from the timing of expenses incurred in connection with the iHeartRadio Music Festival. These increases were partially offset by lower employee compensation and other expenses resulting from our modernization and cost-reduction initiatives executed in 2020 and early 2021.

Segment Adjusted EBITDA Margin increased substantially YoY to 34.2% from 31.1%.

Fourth Quarter 2021 Digital Audio Group Results

(In thousands)

Three Months Ended
December 31,

%

Year Ended
December 31,

%

2021

2020

Change

2021

2020

Change

Revenue

$

273,230

$

172,168

58.7

%

$

834,482

$

474,371

75.9

%

Operating expenses1

174,007

112,009

55.4

%

573,835

343,598

67.0

%

Segment Adjusted EBITDA

$

99,223

$

60,159

64.9

%

$

260,647

$

130,773

99.3

%

Segment Adjusted EBITDA margin

36.3

%

34.9

%

31.2

%

27.6

%

1

Operating expenses consist of Direct operating expenses and Selling, general and administrative expenses, excluding Restructuring Expenses.

Revenue from our Digital Audio Group increased $101.1 million, or 58.7% YoY. Digital, excluding Podcast revenue, grew $46.4 million, or 35.7% YoY, driven by increased demand for digital advertising. Podcast revenue increased by $54.6 million, or 130.2% YoY, driven by increased content and demand for digital advertising. Digital Audio Group revenue increased as a result of general increased demand for digital advertising, the growing popularity of podcasting, the continued addition of premium content to our industry-leading podcast business and our improving ability to monetize our digital audiences and inventory utilizing our sales force and advertising technology platforms, partially driven by leveraging our prior strategic investments in the digital space.

Operating expenses increased $62.0 million, or 55.4% YoY, in connection with our Digital Audio Group’s significant revenue growth, including the impact of higher variable employee compensation expense, variable content and third-party digital costs due to higher revenue and the development of new podcasts. In addition, operating expenses increased due to increased headcount resulting from our investments in key infrastructure to support our growing digital operations, as well as higher variable compensation expenses including sales commissions and bonus arrangements.

Segment Adjusted EBITDA Margin increased YoY to 36.3% from 34.9%.

Fourth Quarter 2021 Audio & Media Services Group Results

(In thousands)

Three Months Ended
December 31,

%

Year Ended
December 31,

%

2021

2020

Change

2021

2020

Change

Revenue

$

65,567

$

100,232

(34.6

) %

$

247,957

$

274,749

(9.8

) %

Operating expenses1

47,618

52,307

(9.0

) %

171,766

180,081

(4.6

) %

Segment Adjusted EBITDA

$

17,949

$

47,925

(62.5

) %

$

76,191

$

94,668

(19.5

) %

Segment Adjusted EBITDA margin

27.4

%

47.8

%

30.7

%

34.5

%

1

Operating expenses consist of Direct operating expenses and Selling, general and administrative expenses, excluding Restructuring Expenses.

Revenue from our Audio & Media Services Group decreased $34.7 million, or 34.6% YoY, due to lower political advertising revenue compared to 2020, which was a presidential election year, partially offset by the continued recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Excluding the impact of political revenue, Revenue from our Audio & Media Services Group increased by 5.6% YoY for the three months ended December 31, 2021.

Operating expenses decreased $4.7 million, or 9.0% YoY, primarily as a result of lower expenses due to our modernization and cost-reduction initiatives.

Segment Adjusted EBITDA Margin decreased YoY to 27.4% from 47.8%.

GAAP and Non-GAAP Measures: Consolidated

(In thousands)

Three Months Ended
December 31,

%

Year Ended
December 31,

%

2021

2020

Change

2021

2020

Change

Revenue

$

1,062,019

$

935,530

13.5

%

$

3,558,340

$

2,948,218

20.7

%

Operating income (loss)

$

122,976

$

112,847

9.0

%

$

154,857

$

(1,737,624

)

NM

Adjusted EBITDA1,3

$

294,165

$

265,493

10.8

%

$

811,133

$

538,673

50.6

%

Net income (loss)

$

111,954

$

2,943

NM

$

(158,389

)

$

(1,915,222

)

NM

Cash provided by operating activities2

$

133,980

$

79,784

67.9

%

$

330,573

$

215,945

53.1

%

Free cash flow1,2,3

$

51,943

$

53,102

(2.2

) %

$

147,201

$

130,740

12.6

%

Free cash flow including net proceeds from real estate sales1,2,3

$

53,046

$

53,102

(0.1

) %

$

169,355

$

130,740

29.5

%

______________________________________________________

1

See the end of this press release for reconciliations of (i) Adjusted EBITDA to Operating income, (ii) Adjusted EBITDA to net income (loss), (iii) Free Cash Flow and Free cash flow including net proceeds from real estate sales to cash provided by operating activities, (iv) revenue, excluding political advertising revenue, to revenue, and (v) Net Debt to Total Debt. See also the definitions of Adjusted EBITDA, Free Cash Flow, Free cash flow including net proceeds from real estate sales, Adjusted EBITDA margin, and Net Debt under the Supplemental Disclosure section in this release.

2

We made cash interest payments from operations of $80.6 million in the three months ended December 31, 2021, compared to $86.2 million in the three months ended December 31, 2020. We made cash interest payments from operations of $328.1 million in the twelve months ended December 31, 2021, compared to $357.2 million in the twelve months ended December 31, 2020.

3

See Supplemental Disclosure Regarding Non-GAAP Financial Information.

Certain prior period amounts have been reclassified to conform to the 2021 presentation of financial information throughout the press release.

Key Initiatives to Improve Cost Structure and Margins

In January 2020, iHeartMedia announced key modernization initiatives designed to take advantage of the significant investments that the Company has made in new technologies to build an improved operating infrastructure to upgrade products and deliver incremental cost efficiencies. This modernization is a multi-pronged set of strategic initiatives that we believe positions the Company for sustainable long-term growth, margin expansion, and value creation for shareholders.

Our investments in modernization delivered approximately $50 million of in-year savings in 2020, and achieved approximately $100 million of annualized run-rate cost savings during 2021.

In April 2020, the Company announced approximately $200 million of incremental in-year operating-expense-saving initiatives in response to the weaker economic environment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and as previously announced, the Company has implemented plans to make the majority of these savings permanent.

Liquidity and Financial Position

As of December 31, 2021, we had $352.1 million of cash on our balance sheet. For the year ended December 31, 2021, cash provided by operating activities was $330.6 million, cash used for investing activities was $346.8 million and cash used for financing activities was $352.1 million. On July 16, 2021, we amended the Term Loan credit facilities and proactively prepaid $250.0 million of borrowings outstanding under these facilities using cash on hand.

Capital expenditures for the year ended December 31, 2021 were $183.4 million compared to $85.2 million in the year ended December 31, 2020. Capital expenditures during the year ended December 31, 2021 increased primarily due to our real estate consolidation initiatives aimed at reducing our structural cost base.

As of December 31, 2021, the Company had $5,738.9 million of total debt and $5,386.7 million of net debt. The terms of our capital structure include no material maintenance covenants, and there are no material debt maturities prior to 2026, with the exception of our asset-backed loan facility (our "ABL"), which matures in 2023, providing structural resilience.

The Company believes its previously announced modernization initiatives and other cost saving actions - in combination with the Company’s resilient capital structure - have substantially expanded the Company’s financial flexibility and liquidity while positioning the Company for further margin improvement as advertising demand continues to normalize.

On October 27, 2021, iHeart Operations repurchased all of the iHeart Operations Preferred Stock with cash on hand for an aggregate price of $64.4 million ("Repurchase Price"), including accrued dividends, upon obtaining consent from the third party investor. The Repurchase Price included a negotiated make-whole premium as the redemption occurred prior to the optional redemption date set forth in the Certificate of Designation governing the iHeart Operations Preferred Stock. Subsequent to the transaction, the preferred shares were retired and cancelled.

Revenue Streams

The tables below present the comparison of our historical revenue streams (including political revenue) for the periods presented:

(In thousands)

Three Months Ended
December 31,

%

Year Ended
December 31,

%

2021

2020

Change

2021

2020

Change

Broadcast Radio

$

519,118

$

494,725

4.9

%

$

1,812,252

$

1,604,880

12.9

%

Networks

136,460

135,061

1.0

%

503,052

484,950

3.7

%

Sponsorship and Events

66,681

34,599

92.7

%

160,322

107,654

48.9

%

Other

4,033

646

NM

13,392

9,370

42.9

%

Multiplatform Group1,2

726,292

665,031

9.2

%

2,489,018

2,206,854

12.8

%

Digital ex. Podcast

176,642

130,208

35.7

%

581,918

372,687

56.1

%

Podcast

96,588

41,960

130.2

%

252,564

101,684

148.4

%

Digital Audio Group

273,230

172,168

58.7

%

834,482

474,371

75.9

%

Audio & Media Services Group1,2

65,567

100,232

(34.6

) %

247,957

274,749

(9.8

) %

Eliminations

(3,070

)

(1,901

)

(13,117

)

(7,756

)

Revenue, total1,2

$

1,062,019

$

935,530

13.5

%

$

3,558,340

$

2,948,218

20.7

%

1 Excluding the impact of political revenue, Revenue from the Multiplatform Group and in Total increased by 17.1% and 25.1% for the three months ended December 31, 2021 compared to the three months ended December 31, 2020, respectively. Excluding the impact of political revenue, Revenue from Audio & Media Services increased by 5.6% for the three months ended December 31, 2021 compared to the three months ended December 31, 2020. See the end of this press release for a reconciliation of revenue, excluding political advertising revenue, to revenue.

2 Excluding the impact of political revenue, Revenue from the Multiplatform Group and in Total increased by 16.8% and 26.9% for the twelve months ended December 31, 2021 compared to the twelve months ended December 31, 2020, respectively. Excluding the impact of political revenue, Revenue from Audio & Media Services increased by 16.6% for the twelve months ended December 31, 2021 compared to the twelve months ended December 31, 2020. See the end of this press release for a reconciliation of revenue, excluding political advertising revenue, to revenue.

Conference Call

iHeartMedia, Inc. will host a conference call to discuss results and business outlook on February 23, 2022, at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time. The conference call number is (833) 350-1328 (U.S. callers) and +1 (236) 389-2425 (International callers) and the passcode for both is 2351337. A live audio webcast of the conference call will also be available on the Investors homepage of iHeartMedia's website investors.iheartmedia.com. After the live conference call, a replay will be available for a period of thirty days. The replay numbers are (800) 585-8367 (U.S. callers) and +1 (416) 621-4642 (International callers) and the passcode for both is 2351337. An archive of the webcast will be available beginning 24 hours after the call for a period of thirty days.

About iHeartMedia, Inc.

iHeartMedia (Nasdaq: IHRT) is the number one audio company in the United States, reaching nine out of 10 Americans every month. It consists of three business groups.

With its quarter of a billion monthly listeners, the iHeartMedia Multiplatform Group has a greater reach than any other media company in the U.S. Its leadership position in audio extends across multiple platforms, including more than 860 live broadcast stations in over 160 markets nationwide; its National Sales organization; and the company’s live and virtual events business. It also includes Premiere Networks, the industry’s largest Networks business, with its Total Traffic and Weather Network (TTWN); and BIN: Black Information Network, the first and only 24/7 national and local all news audio service for the Black community. iHeartMedia also leads the audio industry in analytics, targeting and attribution for its marketing partners with its SmartAudio suite of data targeting and attribution products using data from its massive consumer base.

The iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group includes the company’s fast-growing podcasting business -- iHeartMedia is the number one podcast publisher in downloads, unique listeners, revenue and earnings -- as well as its industry-leading iHeartRadio digital service, available across more than 250 platforms and 2,000 devices; the company’s digital sites, newsletters, digital services and programs; its digital advertising technology companies; and its audio industry-leading social media footprint.

The company’s Audio & Media Services reportable segment includes Katz Media Group, the nation’s largest media representation company, and RCS, the world's leading provider of broadcast and webcast software.

Certain statements herein constitute "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other important factors which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of iHeartMedia, Inc. and its subsidiaries to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. The words or phrases "guidance," "believe," "expect," "anticipate," "estimates," "forecast" and similar words or expressions are intended to identify such forward-looking statements. In addition, any statements that refer to expectations or other characterizations of future events or circumstances, such as statements about expectations regarding economic recovery and the recovery of advertising revenue, expectations regarding the Company's digital transformation, financial performance of our segments, our expected costs and, savings of our modernization initiatives and other capital and operating expense reduction initiatives, our business plans, strategies and initiatives, our expectations about certain markets and our anticipated financial performance, liquidity, and net leverage are forward-looking statements. These statements are not guarantees of future performance and are subject to certain risks, uncertainties and other important factors, some of which are beyond our control and are difficult to predict. Various risks that could cause future results to differ from those expressed by the forward-looking statements included in this press release include, but are not limited to: risks related to weak or uncertain global economic conditions; the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic; increased competition; dependence upon the performance of on-air talent, program hosts and management; fluctuations in operating costs; technological changes and innovations; shifts in population and other demographics; impact of our substantial indebtedness; impact of acquisitions, dispositions and other strategic transactions; information technology and cyber-security risks; legislative or regulatory requirements; impact of legislation, ongoing litigation or royalty audits on music licensing and royalties; regulations and concerns regarding privacy and data protection; risk associated with our emergence from the Chapter 11 Cases; risks related to our Class A common stock; and regulations impacting our business and the ownership of our securities. Other unknown or unpredictable factors also could have material adverse effects on the Company’s future results, performance or achievements. In light of these risks, uncertainties, assumptions and factors, the forward-looking events discussed in this press release may not occur. You are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date stated, or if no date is stated, as of the date hereof. Additional risks that could cause future results to differ from those expressed by any forward-looking statement are described in the Company’s reports filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, including in the section entitled "Item 1A. Risk Factors" of iHeartMedia, Inc.’s Annual Reports on Form 10-K and Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q. The Company does not undertake any obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements because of new information, future events or otherwise.

APPENDIX

TABLE 1 - Comparison of operating performance

(In thousands)

Three Months Ended
December 31,

%

Year Ended
December 31,

%

2021

2020

Change...

2021

2020

Change

Revenue

$

1,062,019

$

935,530

13.5

%

$

3,558,340