Part 1 – Chief Executive Officer’s review

  • At actual exchange rates revenue growth was 23%. Revenue growth was 21% at constant exchange rates and organic revenue growth was 16%.

Experian delivered a strong first half as markets recovered and we continue to execute on our growth strategy. We operate in a number of large and growing end-markets which are undergoing significant change, driving increased demand for the services we offer and opening up new business opportunities to address. Digitisation is driving this change, and companies are investing to upgrade their infrastructure, make their platforms more flexible and make customer experiences more seamless and personalised. They also want to protect themselves and their customers from fraud while also managing their regulatory obligations.

These are all areas in which Experian can make a positive difference to companies and consumers globally. Our Consumer Services business has become one of the largest platforms in the world to help consumers manage their personal finances and to save money. Our unrivalled portfolio of data, analytics and software products positions us well to assist clients as markets evolve. With strong momentum across all areas, both B2B and B2C, we continue to increase investment to capture the significant market expansion opportunity.

Experian is fully committed to our long-term approach of acting as a force for good to help people across the world improve their financial health and offer them opportunities to transform their lives. We have made significant progress on these ambitions and are also focused on progressing towards our stated targets on carbon neutrality and diversity.

Half year financial highlights

  • At actual exchange rates revenue growth was 23%. Revenue growth was 21% at constant exchange rates and organic revenue growth was 16%.
  • Organically, revenue growth was 22% in Q1 and 11% in Q2. Prior-year comparatives mostly normalised in Q2 versus Q1 when we lapped the height of the pandemic-related slowdown.
  • Organic revenue growth in North America was 16%, 20% in Latin America, 15% in UK and Ireland and 6% in EMEA/Asia Pacific.
  • B2B organic revenue growth was 12%, with growth across all regions.
  • Consumer Services performed very strongly, revenue was up 27%, with growth across all relevant regions operating in this business segment.
  • Growth in Benchmark EBIT for ongoing activities was 25% at both constant and actual exchange rates.
  • Our Benchmark EBIT margin was 26.3%, up 70 basis points at constant exchange rates and up 20 basis points at actual exchange rates, notwithstanding increasing marketing investment to support Consumer Services momentum, new product innovation and increasing investment in our technology transformation programme. Strong progress in the UK and Ireland transformation programme with EBIT margin nearly doubling in the half.
  • We delivered growth in Benchmark earnings per share of 30% at constant exchange rates and 29% at actual exchange rates.
  • Cash flow was very strong, with a conversion rate of Benchmark EBIT into Benchmark operating cash flow of 89%, in our seasonally weaker half of the year for cash conversion.
  • We ended the period in the lower half of our leverage range at 2.1x, compared to our target of 2.0-2.5x for Net debt to Benchmark EBITDA.

B2B organic revenue growth was 12% overall, with Q1 +18% and Q2 +7%:

  • In Data, we have benefitted from strong volume rebound across the majority of our markets linked to the reactivation of lending and marketing by clients. Innovation and new business development have also been critical contributors to our performance. For example, we now have 113 Ascend clients globally across 10 countries. We have signed over 60 contracts for verification services in North America, and we see good demand for positive data attributes and scores in Brazil.
  • In Decisioning, PowerCurve and CrossCore are both performing strongly. We have launched CrossCore 2.0 with 144 clients and it is now our fastest growing identity and fraud product, against a backdrop of very good 4 growth across all of our fraud prevention offerings, with Brazil becoming our third territory with meaningful revenues. We have also made good progress with PowerCurve as client demand resumed and in particular, we are seeing increased demand for our cloud-enabled decisioning platforms. The number of clients who have implemented PowerCurve on Experian One at the end of the period was 104.
  • Vertical markets also did well. In Health, we are seeing increased demand for better consumer experiences in healthcare and this is driving demand for digital products focussed on better patient interaction, scheduling and engagement. We also continue to broaden the breadth of the services we offer to hospitals and to expand into market adjacencies such as the payer and pharmacy sectors.

We had an outstanding first half in Consumer Services which delivered 27% organic revenue growth, with Q1 +32% and Q2 +22%:

  • We now have 122m free consumer memberships, up by 26m year-on-year across our three principal markets. We have 47m free members in the USA, 65m in Brazil and 10.4m in the UK.
  • All regions operating in this business segment delivered strong growth as we increase our membership base, help consumers to take control of their credit scores and expand our product ecosystem.

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG)

  • Improving financial health for all is at the core of Experian’s strategy. We can use our data, our extensive product portfolio and our deep expertise to make the biggest difference to society, helping us to contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (targets 1.4, 8.10 and 9.3), related to improving access to financial services and credit.
  • We were delighted that the impact that Experian Boost has had helping millions of people improve their credit scores resulted in Experian being included in the Fortune Change the World list 2021, which honours 50 companies addressing society’s unmet needs.
  • We launched Inclusion Forward – Experian Empowering Opportunities, an initiative that harnesses Experian’s data, analytics and technology that can help clients create and provide more affordable credit access. Inclusion Forward will also provide ongoing resources to help consumers better understand their credit health, particularly in diverse communities. It is a good example of how our focus on financial inclusion and our focus on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion can re-enforce each other.
  • We also launched a global partnership with Disability:IN, the leading non-profit resource for business disability inclusion worldwide.
  • This summer Experian was certified as a Great Place to Work in 21 countries, with over 90% of participating employees agreeing that people are treated fairly regardless of their social and economic status, sexual orientation, race and gender, and 86% are proud to tell others they work for Experian.
  • We delivered a very successful Mental Health Awareness Month that delivered specific tools to help our employees to manage their mental wellness, including the expansion of our scheme of volunteer mental health first aiders, trained to provide workplace mental support.
  • Our science-based target for reducing scope 1, 2 and 3 carbon emissions was recently approved by the Science Based Targets initiative, who also determined that our scope 1 and 2 target ambition is in line with a 1.5°C trajectory and that our scope 3 target is ambitious.

Part 2 – Regional highlights for the six months ended 30 September 2021

We delivered organic revenue growth across all regions in the half.

 

  1. For the six months ended 30 September 2021.
    2. B2B = Business-to-Business segment consists of Data and Decisioning business sub-divisions.
    3. At constant currency
    4. At actual exchange rates See note 5 to the financial statements on pages 25-27 for definition of organic revenue growth

North America

We made very good progress in North America. Revenue was US$2,037m, with total revenue growth of 21% and organic revenue growth of 16%. The difference related to the acquisitions of Tapad, Corporate Cost Control, Emptech and Tax Credit Co (TCC).

Organic revenue growth across B2B was 13%. This was driven by volume strength, high take-up rates for new products, expansion into new client segments and strong execution across Health and Automotive.

Financial institutions have resumed credit prospecting and new credit origination activity. This included a rebound across traditional client segments as well as across the alternative financial services markets. Innovation-led growth has been an important driver of growth and our expanded datasets and scores are being positively received by clients who want to use them to include more people in the financial economy. These include propositions such as Experian Lift Premium, which scores up to 96% of the US population.

Ascend continues to grow as we have added new modules. We are also integrating Ascend with our decisioning platforms to offer a more seamless proposition from credit analysis through to underwriting. We have made significant progress in decisioning solutions in the cloud, offering world-class decisioning capabilities which can be deployed quickly, at scale and cost effectively. In addition to our decisioning capabilities, this is driving demand for our fraud and identity management capabilities. These factors have contributed to significant client wins and a strong new business pipeline. This includes new clients in high-growth segments such as Buy Now Pay Later, as well as new business wins in the public sector. As expected, mortgage volumes contracted in the half due to lower re-financing activity and we continue to expect this to be a 1% headwind to Group organic revenue growth for the year.

Our expansion into verifications is progressing well. Since April, we have signed over 60 new contracts for Experian Verify. Employer Services delivered a robust performance on a pro forma basis driven by new client acquisition.

We saw a significant rebound in Targeting activities related to market recovery and organic expansion in addressable television services and our new business pipeline is up sharply. Our Automotive vertical has continued to perform well. This reflected strong growth in our automotive marketing and value recovery activities, even while the industry has faced challenges caused by constraints on the global supply chain.

In Health we delivered very good growth across the breadth of our suite which includes scheduling, patient access, identity management, claims and coverage discovery. We are investing in a suite of propositions to diversify our product mix. This includes enhancements through an initiative we refer to as the ‘digital front door’, which is helping our clients as they establish online portals, and for which early indications are positive. We are also making good progress with our plans to grow our client footprint in adjacent client segments such as physician practices, payer and pharmacy.

Consumer Services was our fastest growing segment in North America, delivering organic revenue growth of 24%. This was fuelled by membership growth, high rates of upsell into our premium credit and identity offers and strength across our credit and insurance marketplaces. Free memberships reached 47m, up by 11m year-on-year. Our credit comparison marketplace continues to scale. Consumers shopping for credit cards can access a wide range of offers from our panel and Experian Boost can help to ensure they are matched into the best loan offer to suit their circumstances.

Personal loan volumes have also seen a big uplift. In addition, we are progressing our plans to grow our presence in the insurance marketplace, and the acquisition of Gabi will help us to streamline this shopping experience for consumers. The strength in our revenue performance translated into Benchmark EBIT up 21% to US$737m and the Benchmark EBIT margin was 36.2% in line with prior year.

Latin America

Latin America performed very strongly, delivering revenue of US$362m. Organic revenue growth of 20% was broadly spread across our portfolio. Total revenue growth at constant currency was 27%, including acquisitions in fraud and identity management and a new bureau in Chile.

B2B organic revenue growth was 15% across Brazil and Spanish Latin America helped by economic recovery and new products. In Brazil, lending is digitising rapidly and the market is adapting to this change. We have made great progress towards our ambition to lead the next generation of credit and risk solutions and to expand and diversify our portfolio. Take-up rates for our new positive data scores and attributes has accelerated. We have now introduced over 100 positive data propositions and Serasa Score 2.0 is increasingly recognised as the most highly predictive score in Brazil. Market changes are driving demand for more sophisticated products, we have seen increased demand for CrossCore 2.0, PowerCurve on Experian One and Ascend. We see significant scope to drive further adoption as we deploy new modules and use cases. We are also broadening our portfolio to address new high-growth verticals in Brazil and across the region. The acquisitions of BrScan and Brain Soluções de Tecnologia Digital Ltd in fraud and identity management and agribusiness are accelerating this strategy. In Chile, the integration of Sinacofi Buró is progressing well and we see a lot of opportunity for growth by adding innovative Experian propositions to the bureau.

Consumer Services organic revenue growth was 64%. Our ambition is to enable credit for all, in a market where access to credit is still not universal and where consumers are often financially excluded by prohibitive interest rates. Our membership base in Brazil continues to grow and we now have 65m free members. We are developing and expanding our ecosystem of consumer offers. In debt resolution (Limpa Nome) we have added more partners and negotiated more deals for consumers. We also recently acquired PagueVeloz which will accelerate the process for consumers to instantly ‘clean their name’, potentially increase their Serasa Score and help them to access credit at more affordable rates more quickly. In our credit marketplace we have matched more consumers to more credit cards, personal loans and other loans while also attracting more lenders to our platform. We have introduced new features to our premium offers, including a ‘lock/unlock’ feature which Experian first pioneered in North America and which helps consumers with fraud and identity management.

Benchmark EBIT in Latin America was US$87m, up 30% at constant exchange rates. The Benchmark EBIT margin from ongoing activities at actual exchange rates was 24.0% up by 60 basis points. Progress reflected revenue acceleration, even as we invested in customer acquisition spend as we scale in Consumer Services.

UK and Ireland

Revenue in the UK and Ireland was US$408m. Total and organic revenue increased 15% at constant exchange rates.

UK and Ireland had a strong start to the year, with much improved margin performance. Our transformation programme is progressing well and we are confident about our ability to deliver more sustainable and more profitable growth.

B2B organic revenue growth was 11%. Our end markets started to recover as clients relaxed lending policies and reactivated lending programmes. We benefitted from volume growth and new business wins during the period. Adoption of propositions based on new data sources is also encouraging, including for affordability and eligibility assessment. We see good prospects for Ascend with a growing pipeline of opportunities. Decisioning growth reflected strength in fraud and identity management driven by transactional recovery and increased take-up of CrossCore 2.0. Software also delivered growth driven by cloud-enabled solutions and new business wins.

Organic revenue growth in Consumer Services was 30%. We delivered further growth in premium services and very strong growth from our credit marketplace. This reflected the improved lending environment in the UK as well as the progress we have made on strengthening our market position and increasing brand recognition. Free membership reached 10.4m.

Benchmark EBIT improved markedly to US$85m, up from US$34m (all from ongoing activities). The Benchmark EBIT margin from ongoing activities was 20.8% (2020: 10.5%). This reflects the progress we have made through our transformation programme, as well as the contribution from revenue expansion.

1. Percentage of group revenue from ongoing activities calculated based on H1 FY22 revenue at actual exchange rates.
2. Ongoing activities only, at constant exchange rates.
CI = Consumer Information, BI = Business Information, DA = Decision Analytics.

EMEA/Asia Pacific

In EMEA/Asia Pacific, revenue from ongoing activities was US$253m, with total revenue growth at constant exchange rates of 26% and organic growth of 6%. The difference principally relates to the contribution from our bureau acquisitions, namely the Risk Management division of Arvato Financial Solutions (AFS) in Germany, and Axesor in Spain.

Client activity has increased across the majority of our markets with only some countries still affected by COVID19 restrictions. This gave rise to bureau volume recovery in most countries. The decline in EMEA in Q2 was due to the lapping of a one-off contract in the prior year comparative. Our clients are adopting cloud-enabled technologies and we have seen good demand for Ascend, PowerCurve on Experian One, open data solutions, as well as our fraud and identity management services.

We also continue to focus on driving performance improvement across EMEA/Asia Pacific and are taking further measures to improve growth, streamline our operations and enhance efficiency across the region.

Benchmark EBIT from ongoing activities was US$(21)m (2020: US$(34)m) and the Benchmark EBIT margin from ongoing activities was (8.3)% (2020: (17.9)%). The improving trend reflected revenue recovery and a positive acquisition mix effect.

1. Percentage of group revenue from ongoing activities calculated based on H1 FY22 revenue at actual exchange rates.
2. Ongoing activities only, at constant exchange rates.
CI = Consumer Information, BI = Business Information, DA = Decision Analytics.

Part 3 – Other financial developments

Central Activities was US$82m, up from US$28m in the prior year at actual rates. This increase reflects the phasing of expenses in the prior year, a catch up of long-term incentive plans after a strong start to FY22, increased investment in global innovation projects and exchange rate movements. For the full year we expect Central Activities cost of US$140m-US$150m, of which around US$20m is a catch-up on incentive expenses incurred in the first half.

Benchmark PBT was US$751m, up 28% at both constant and actual rates, after lower net interest expense of US$55m (2020: US$60m). The reduction reflects lower average global interest rates. For FY22, we expect net interest expense to be circa US$115m.

The Benchmark tax rate was 24.8% (2020: 26.2%) including a one-off tax credit associated with the change to UK tax rates. For FY22, we expect a rate of approximately 26%.

Our Benchmark EPS was 61.7 US cents, an increase of 30% at constant currency and 29% at actual exchange rates. The weighted average number of ordinary shares (WANOS) increased to 914m (2020: 907m), inclusive of the shares delivered in connection with the purchase of our stake in the Risk Management division of Arvato Financial Solutions. For FY22, we expect WANOS of circa 915m.

Cash conversion rates and cash generation were very strong, in the typically seasonally weaker half of the year for cash flow. Benchmark operating cash flow increased 25% at actual rates and our cash flow conversion was 89% (2020: 89%).

Foreign exchange translation was a 1% headwind to Benchmark EPS in the half. This was predominantly due to pound Sterling, which appreciated by 9% relative to the US dollar versus the prior year. For FY22, we expect foreign exchange impact to be neutral to Benchmark EBIT and a (30) basis point headwind to EBIT margin. This assumes recent foreign exchange rates prevail.

We continued to expand investment in data, technology and innovation organically through capital expenditure. Capital expenditure increased by 22% to US$229m, which represented 7% of total revenue. For FY22, we expect capital expenditure to represent circa 8% of total revenue.

We took steps to expand the reach of our portfolio through inorganic investments. Total acquisition cash outflow in the first half was US$369m. This included the acquisitions of TCC and Emptech, as part of the expansion of our income verification business in North America, and a majority stake in Sinacofi Buró, a leading credit bureau in Chile. After the period end we completed the acquisitions of Gabi Personal Insurance Agency, Inc., to extend our North America insurance marketplace, and of Holding Veloz Investimentos e Participações S.A. ‘PagueVeloz’, a digital payments fintech in Brazil which will form part of our online debt resolution proposition, Limpa Nome.

We have announced a first interim dividend of 16.0 US cents per share, up 10%. This will be paid on 4 February 2022 to shareholders on the register at the close of business on 7 January 2022.

We have executed a net US$115m of our planned US$150m FY22 share repurchase programme, which mainly offsets deliveries under employee share plans. During the half we redeemed our £400m 3.50% Euronotes due October 2021. Our bonds, net of derivatives, totalled US$3.4bn at 30 September 2021 and had an average remaining tenor of six years.

As at 30 September 2021, Net debt to Benchmark EBITDA was 2.1x, compared to our target leverage range of 2.0-2.5x. Following changes in market adoption of the recently implemented IFRS 16 ‘Leases’ our definition of Net debt has been updated to include lease obligations.

Source:  Experian HY Trading Results