SOURCE: Cricket Media

Cricket Media

August 21, 2014 06:00 ET

Cricket Media (formerly ePals Corporation) 2014 Second Quarter Results

Subscriptions Increase 10%; Content Licensing Revenues Increase 36%

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwired - Aug 21, 2014) - Cricket Media Group Ltd. (TSX VENTURE: CKT) ("Cricket Media" or the "Company") (formerly ePals Corporation) an education media company and global social learning network, today released its operating results for the second quarter ended June 30, 2014. Results were prepared by management in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards ("IFRS"). All figures are in U.S. dollars unless otherwise stated.

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Three Months Ended June 30 Highlights

  • Media subscriptions increased 10% year-over-year 
  • Content licensing revenue increased 36% year-over-year
  • Operating expenses down 27% year-over-year
  • Total revenue of $3.5 million 
  • Continued expansion of reach and opportunity for media products through the new Story Bug app and partnership with Fingerprint

"Working with our partners around the world we are expanding the distribution of our award-winning educational content in multiple languages (English, Spanish and Mandarin). This is driving increased engagement within our global child-safe social learning network and more demand for our content," said CEO Katya Andresen. "We completed the second quarter on lower operating expenses while delivering increases in subscriptions, content licensing, and sponsorship and advertising. We look forward to good revenue growth in the second half of the year consistent with the seasonality in our business. "

The total number of Cricket Media subscriptions grew 10% over Q2 2013. Customers increasingly adopted digital products as the Company provided digital subscribers the ability to access Cricket Media products via the platform of their choice -- IOS, Android, or the web. 39% of new customers selected a digital option in Q2 2014, more than double the percentage of Q1 2014 and more than 3 times the percentage in Q2 2013. 

Content licensing revenues grew by approximately 36% in Q2 2014 compared to the prior year period driven by new customers and improved contract terms including "umbrella" licensing deals that allow customers to purchase multiple sets of content under a single contract. The Company signed umbrella contracts with two large publishers as of the end of the second quarter. In addition, in July 2014 a new broad multi-year content licensing agreement was signed with global education publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) under which Cricket Media will supply HMH with content from across its portfolio of acclaimed children's magazines and K-12 multimedia offerings for use throughout HMH's comprehensive range of curriculum materials for grades of all levels around the world.

Cricket Media expects to launch key new products in the second half of 2014 through the partnerships it formed earlier in the year with Fingerprint and Kindoma. The expansion of media offerings resulting from these new agreements is expected to drive increases in consumer subscription and commerce revenue. The Company expects to expand mobile access to Cricket Media content by launching its Story Bug app, part of its Kindoma partnership, during the third quarter. The Story Bug app combines a shared reader with video chat to enable family members to remotely read Cricket Media content together using an iPhone or iPad. The Company also expects to launch, in partnership with Fingerprint, a custom, Cricket Media-branded platform that enables family members and other parent-approved users of Cricket Media's existing portfolio of digital magazine apps to communicate and collaborate around engaging, educational experiences.

The Company's expanded partnership with the Smithsonian resulted in increased onsite engagement time and a doubling of participation levels over 2013 in the Smithsonian "Invent It" challenge which allows K-12 participants to devise inventions that solve real world problems. The Company also completed for the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage a curricula and virtual, global exchange for K-12 students under which more than 100 student films were submitted from seven countries. In addition to increasing the overall time onsite compared to prior periods, the content (including video content) generated during these challenges was added to Cricket Media's digital library.

The Company's China media partner, Neumedias, is completing the first Chinese translations of the Company's interactive digital media products for online distribution throughout China. The initial content targeted for release in Fall of 2014 will include nearly 40 issues and the offering will continue to be expanded with each progressive publication as it is developed by Cricket Media. Four publication brands of dual English-Chinese language apps and content for toddlers and young children will be offered on smartphones, tablets and smart TVs through Neumedias' NeuStore digital media platform. Neumedias is a digital publishing company owned by Neusoft Holdings, an affiliate of Neusoft Corp, one of the largest information services and systems companies in China. This partnership between Cricket Media and Neumedias builds on the relationship in China between Cricket Media and the Neusoft family of companies, which includes the NeuPals joint venture providing Chinese schools with an online platform for collaborative learning. 

Q2 Financial Review

Total revenue for the three months ended June 30, 2014 was $3.5 million compared to $3.4 million for the three months ended June 30, 2013. Licensing revenue, which consists of content licensing and legacy enterprise licensing revenue, increased $47,000, or 12%, from approximately $379,000 to approximately $426,000 for the second quarter of 2014 compared to the prior year period driven by new content licensing deals with new and existing customers partially offset by a continuing decline in the legacy enterprise licensing revenue. Sponsorship and advertising revenue increased $71,000, or 27%, during the second quarter of 2014 compared to the prior year period due to an increase in sponsorship revenues generated from the Company's partnership agreements during the current year, partially offset by a decrease in advertising revenues driven by lower cost per thousand impressions (CPMs). Subscription revenues of $2.4 million for the three months ended June 30, 2014 were essentially flat compared to the prior year period. While a 10% increase in subscriptions drove a modest increase in revenues, the increase was offset by a lower average subscription price. The lower average subscription price is the result of a strategy to more aggressively acquire new subscribers in an effort to increase exposure to the Company's full family of subscription products and other products. Commerce revenue decreased approximately $37,000, or 11%, from approximately $329,000 to approximately $292,000 during the second quarter of 2014 compared to the prior year period primarily due to a decrease in book sales.

Operating expenses for the second quarter of 2014 were $7.2 million, a decrease of approximately $2.6 million, or 27%, compared to $9.8 million during the prior year period primarily due to the Company's expense reduction initiatives which included focusing on near term revenue opportunities, streamlining senior management, and identifying outsourcing opportunities. This decrease was reflected in lower marketing and promotion expenses, operations and support costs, general and administrative costs and technology, research and development expenses.

Operating expenses by category for the second quarter of 2014 compared to the second quarter of 2013 are as follows (dollars in thousands):

                       
    Three months ended June 30,   Increase         
Operating Expense Detail   2014     2013   (Decrease) %  
(dollars in thousands, except share and per share data)                            
Cost of sales   $ 2,206     $ 2,286   $ (80 )   -3 %
Technology, research and development     1,210       1,374     (164 )   -12 %
Operations and support     740       1,230     (490 )   -40 %
General and administrative     1,721       2,000     (279 )   -14 %
Marketing and promotion expenses     886       1,963     (1,077 )   -55 %
Stock-based compensation     96       470     (374 )   -80 %
Depreciation & amortization     310       334     (24 )   -7 %
Change in estimated fair value of acquisition share consideration     (91 )     -     (91 )   N/A  
Transaction costs related to financing     9       8     1     13 %
Loss on investment in NeuPals     79       107     (28 )   -26 %
Total operating expenses   $ 7,166     $ 9,772   $ (2,606 )   -27 %
                             
  • Marketing and promotion expenses decreased primarily due to the Company's cost containment initiatives, as well as strategic decisions to align spending based on the Company's current financing activities.
  • Operations and support costs decreased as a result of reduced expenses relating to consultants and other contractors primarily related to the de-emphasis of the Company's European operations.
  • General and administrative expenses decreased primarily due to reductions in headcount and consulting costs partially offset by an increase in legal expenses in the current quarter.
  • Technology, research and development costs decreased primarily due to a reduction in headcount for both employees and consultants, as well as the outsourcing of technology development work.
  • Stock-based compensation decreased primarily due to a reduction in number and fair value of awards vested to the Company's employees.

At June 30, 2014 Cricket Media had approximately $485,000 in cash and cash equivalents. Subsequent to quarter-end, the Company raised an additional $2.6 million through borrowings under its revolving credit facility for general corporate purposes and working capital.

Net loss for the second quarter of 2014 was $5.5 million, or $(0.37) per share, compared to a net loss of $6.0 million, or $(0.93) per share for the prior year period. This decrease in net loss was primarily due to the factors discussed above offset by an increase in foreign currency exchange gains, lower gains associated with the change in fair value of derivatives and increased interest expense related to additional debentures issued during the third quarter of 2013. The amounts for net loss per share include adjustments to weighted average common shares outstanding related to the 25:1 share consolidation that took place during July 2014.

As of August 15, 2014, Cricket Media had a total of 17,546,446 common shares outstanding, of which 4,838,629 are voting common shares and 12,707,817 are restricted voting common shares. 

About Cricket Media

Cricket Media (TSX VENTURE: CKT) is an education media company that provides award-winning content on a safe and secure learning network for children, families and teachers across the world. Cricket Media's 14 popular media brands for toddlers to teens include Babybug, Ladybug, Cricket® and Cobblestone® with multiple language editions and apps in English, Spanish and Chinese. The Company's innovative web-based K12 tools for school and home include the ePals® community and virtual classroom for global collaboration as well as In2Books®, a Common Core eMentoring program that builds reading, writing and critical thinking skills. Cricket Media serves approximately one million classrooms and millions of teachers, students and parents in over 200 countries and territories through its products and services. Cricket Media also licenses its content and platform to top publishing and educational companies worldwide. For more information, please visit www.Cricketmag.com, www.ePals.com and www.In2Books.com.

Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Information
Certain statements contained in this press release constitute forward-looking information within the meaning of applicable securities laws, including statements with respect to customers, ventures; partnerships; contributions and/or prospects of one or more of the Company's business lines; the Company's strategy, prospects and success in pursuing domestic or international markets; and the Company's anticipated plans to increase its subscriptions, revenue, sales and ARPU. These statements relate to future events or future performance. Often, but not always, forward-looking information can be identified by the use of words such as "plans", "expects", "is expected", "budget", "scheduled", "estimates", "forecasts", "intends", "anticipates", or "believes" or variations (including negative variations) of such words and phrases, or statements formed in the future tense or indicating that certain actions, events or results "may", "could", "would", "might" or "will" (or other variations of the forgoing) be taken, occur, be achieved, or come to pass. Forward-looking information is necessarily based upon a number of assumptions and factors that, while considered reasonable, are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors which may cause the actual results and future events to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking information. Those assumptions and factors are based on information currently available to the Company. Such material factors and assumptions include, but are not limited to: the Company's ability to execute on its business plan; the acceptance of the Company's products and services by customers globally; that the Company's affiliated entities will be able to secure distribution partners for sale of the Company's products and services; the Company's subjective assessment of the likelihood of success of a sales lead or opportunity; that sales will be completed at or above estimated margins; that the demand for secure email communication as well as education media related products domestically, in Europe and in China will continue to grow; that the demand for the Company's products and services globally will develop and grow; the receipt of all requisite regulatory approvals throughout venture territories for the sale of the Company's products and services; the availability of additional financing, if and when required and market conditions generally. Although the Company has attempted to identify important factors that could cause actual actions, events or results to differ materially from those described in forward-looking information, there may be other factors that cause actions, events or results to differ from those anticipated, estimated or intended. The forward-looking information contained in this press release is made as of the date hereof and the Company is not obligated to update or revise any forward-looking information, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by applicable securities laws. Because of the risks, uncertainties and assumptions contained herein, investors should not place undue reliance on forward-looking information. The foregoing statements expressly qualify any forward-looking information contained herein.

Neither TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release

   
Cricket Media Group Ltd.  
(formerly ePals Corporation)  
Condensed Consolidated Interim Statements of Financial Position  
June 30, 2014 and December 31, 2013  
   
    (Unaudited)        
    June 30,
 2014
    December 31,
2013
 
Assets                
Current assets                
  Cash & cash equivalents   $ 485,245     $ 3,641,985  
  Accounts receivable, net of allowance for doubtful accounts     1,045,336       1,265,834  
  Inventory     546,928       538,163  
  Other current assets     1,032,579       1,139,455  
    Total current assets     3,110,088       6,585,437  
                 
Property and equipment, net     355,043       449,208  
Investment in NeuPals     643,166       811,929  
Goodwill     14,475,807       14,419,953  
Other intangible assets, net     7,782,186       7,876,341  
Restricted cash     75,966       75,966  
Other assets     52,056       63,503  
                 
    Total assets   $ 26,494,312     $ 30,282,337  
Liabilities and Stockholders' Equity (Deficit)                
Current liabilities                
  Accounts payable and accrued expenses   $ 5,366,043     $ 6,216,975  
  Accrued interest     617,714       712,591  
  Acquisition consideration liabilities, current     280,373       584,178  
  Deferred revenue, current     4,059,378       6,422,165  
  Bank line-of-credit     1,500,000       1,500,000  
  Notes payable to related parties     500,118       1,500,000  
  Finance lease obligations, current     60,563       65,716  
  Other current liabilities     161,504       90,795  
    Total current liabilities     12,545,693       17,092,420  
                 
Secured convertible debentures     19,666,912       18,399,596  
Deferred revenue, less current portion     573,813       851,854  
Finance lease obligations, less current portion     88,934       117,507  
Other liabilities     11,440       11,440  
                 
    Total liabilities     32,886,792       36,472,817  
                 
Commitments and contingencies                
                 
Stockholders' equity (deficit)                
  Share capital     112,121,839       104,912,731  
  Additional paid-in capital     8,507,993       7,352,232  
  Accumulated deficit     (125,404,596 )     (116,809,681 )
  Unvested voting common stock     -       (1,876 )
  Accumulated other comprehensive loss     (125,668 )     (151,838 )
  Less: Treasury stock (28,800 shares)     (1,492,048 )     (1,492,048 )
                 
    Total stockholders' equity (deficit)     (6,392,480 )     (6,190,480 )
                 
    Total liabilities and stockholders' equity (deficit)   $ 26,494,312     $ 30,282,337  
                     
   
Cricket Media Group Ltd.  
(formerly ePals Corporation)  
Condensed Consolidated Interim Statements of Comprehensive Loss  
Three and Six months Ended June 30, 2014 and 2013 (Unaudited)  
   
    Three Months Ended
June 30,
    Six Months Ended
June 30,
 
    2014     2013     2014     2013  
                                 
Revenue   $ 3,464,947     $ 3,375,003     $ 8,083,627       7,992,061  
                                 
Operating expenses:                                
  Cost of sales     2,205,523       2,285,875     $ 4,720,022       5,143,851  
  Technology, research & development costs     1,210,221       1,374,444       2,340,671       2,843,156  
  Operations and support expenses     739,973       1,229,677       1,606,949       2,447,535  
  General and administrative expenses     1,720,885       1,999,856       3,301,368       3,663,215  
  Marketing and promotion expenses     885,923       1,963,656       1,739,400       3,604,982  
  Stock-based compensation     95,846       469,757       248,527       1,109,123  
  Depreciation & amortization     309,802       333,855       628,587       649,750  
  Loss on investment in NeuPals     79,518       106,856       168,763       135,125  
  Financing transaction costs     8,565       7,820       12,816       26,055  
                                   
  Change in estimated fair value of acquisition share consideration     (90,521 )     -       (90,521 )     -  
Total operating expenses     7,165,735       9,771,796       14,676,582       19,622,792  
                                 
Loss from operations     (3,700,788 )     (6,396,793 )     (6,592,955 )     (11,630,731 )
                                 
Other income (expense):                                
  Gain from change in fair value of derivatives     4,750       748,000       63,750       3,027,000  
  Interest expense, net     (1,107,878 )     (860,355 )     (2,135,570 )     (1,414,919 )
  Other income     45,064       -       52,571       -  
  Net foreign currency exchange gains     (722,210 )     492,574       17,289       627,794  
                                 
Net loss     (5,481,062 )     (6,016,574 )     (8,594,915 )     (9,390,856 )
                                 
Other comprehensive income (loss):                                
  Items that may be subsequently reclassfied into net income/loss                                
    Foreign currency translation     (2,587 )     (7,928 )     26,170       26,838  
                                 
Total comprehensive loss   $ (5,483,649 )   $ (6,024,502 )   $ (8,568,745 )   $ (9,364,018 )
                                 
                                 
Net loss per common share:                                
Basic and diluted   $ (0.37 )   $ (0.93 )   $ (0.63 )   $ (1.45 )
                                 
Weighted average number of common shares:                                
Basic and diluted     14,833,435       6,498,388       13,584,439       6,470,658  
                                 
   
Cricket Media Group, Ltd.  
(formerly ePals Corporation)  
Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows  
Six Months Ended June 30, 2014 and 2013 (Unaudited)  
             
    Six Months Ended June 30,  
    2014     2013  
Cash flows from operating activities:                
  Net loss   $ (8,594,915 )   $ (9,390,856 )
  Adjustments to reconcile net loss to net cash used in operating activities:                
    Gain from change in fair value of derivatives     (63,750 )     (3,027,000 )
    Depreciation and amortization     628,587       649,750  
    Stock-based compensation     248,527       1,109,123  
    Bad debt expense     (155,632 )     25,198  
    Loss on investment in NeuPals     168,763       135,125  
    Amortization of financing costs from debentures     1,265,363       862,316  
    Net foreign currency exchange (gains) losses     (17,289 )     (627,794 )
    Restricted share vesting     1,876       1,876  
    Change in estimated fair value of acquisition consideration     (90,521 )     -  
    Changes in operating assets and liabilities:                
      Accounts receivable     299,596       684,995  
      Inventory     (8,765 )     (79,964 )
      Other current assets     106,877       96,485  
      Accounts payable and accrued expenses     (945,809 )     187,049  
      Deferred revenue     (2,640,828 )     (2,067,639 )
      Other     (19,532 )     5,514  
        Total adjustments     (1,222,537 )     (2,044,966 )
                 
        Net cash used in operating activities     (9,817,452 )     (11,435,822 )
                 
Cash flows from investing activities:                
  Cash paid for acquisitions     (48,226 )     -  
  Purchases of equipment     -       (326,525 )
  Increase in intangible and other assets     (307,167 )     (228,180 )
                 
        Net cash used in investing activities     (355,393 )     (554,705 )
                 
Cash flows from financing activities:                
  Proceeds from secured convertible debentures, net of expenses     -       7,162,336  
  Proceeds from notes payable to related parties     4,200,118       1,500,000  
  Proceeds from private placement, net of expenses     2,452,806       -  
  Payments on finance lease obligations     (36,829 )     (40,830 )
  Proceeds from finance lease obligations     -       163,742  
  Proceeds from exercise of stock warrants     399,882       -  
                 
        Net cash provided by financing activities     7,015,977       8,785,248  
                 
  Decrease in cash and equivalents     (3,156,868 )     (3,205,279 )
                 
  Effect of exchange rates on cash     128       (6,116 )
                 
  Cash & cash equivalents at the beginning of the period     3,641,985       3,948,499  
  Cash & cash equivalents at the end of the period   $ 485,245     $ 737,104  
                 
Non-cash financing activities:                
  Issuance of common shares in connection with acquisition consideration liabilities   $ 150,000     $ -  
  Issuance of common shares related to credit facility with related party     5,200,000       -  
                 
Supplemental disclosures of cash flow information:                
  Cash paid for interest   $ 941,455     $ 451,801  
  Cash paid for income taxes     9,500       24,193  
                 

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