2019 performance

Financial highlights

Like-for-like +46%
Like-for-like +41%
Gross profit
Like-for-like +44%
Operational EBITDA4
Like-for-like +51%
Operational EBITDA margin5
+6.9 margin points
Like-for-like +0.9 margin points
Operating loss
2018 -£8.4m
Adjusted operating profit6
Like-for-like +51%
Loss before income tax
2018 -£9.1m
Adjusted result before income tax7
Like-for-like +69%
Basic loss per share
2018 -3.3p
Adjusted basic earnings per share
Like-for-like +63%
Market capitalisation at 1 May 2020
Pro-forma2 billings
Pro-forma revenue
Pro-forma gross profit
Pro-forma operational EBITDA
Pro-forma operational EBITDA margin
+1.1 margin point
Pro-forma operating profit
2018 -£11.0m
Pro-forma adjusted operating profit
Pro-forma loss before income tax
2018 -£16.4m
Pro-forma adjusted result before income tax
Pro-forma basic loss per share
2018 -3.3p
Pro-forma adjusted basic earnings per share
Share price at 1 May 2020

For full reconciliation from statutory to non-GAAP measures, please refer to Note 25 and the unaudited preliminary results published on 18 March 2020.

  1. Billings is gross billings to clients including pass-through costs.
  2. Pro-forma numbers relate to unaudited full year non-statutory and non-GAAP consolidated results in constant currency as if the Group had existed in full for the year and have been prepared under comparable GAAP with no consolidation eliminations.
  3. Like-for-like is a non-GAAP measure and relates to 2018 being restated to show the unaudited numbers for the previous year of the existing and acquired businesses consolidated for the same months as in 2019 applying currency rates as used in 2019.
  4. Operational EBITDA is EBITDA adjusted for non-recurring items and recurring share-based payments and is a non-GAAP measure management uses to assess the underlying business performance.
  5. Operational EBITDA margin is operational EBITDA divided by gross profit.
  6. Adjusted operating profit is operating loss adjusted for non-recurring items and recurring share-based payments.
  7. Adjusted result before income tax is loss before income tax adjusted for non-recurring items and recurring share-based payments.
A view from the top
Left to right:
  • Scott Spirit, Chief Growth Officer, S⁴Capital
  • Lanya Zambrano, Founder and President, Firewood
  • Sir Martin Sorrell, Executive Chairman, S⁴Capital
Shot on 2 March 2020 on the 61st floor of Marc Benioff’s Salesforce Tower – the highest you can get in San Francisco without breaking the law – our panel discusses growth, integration, diversity and client challenges, as well as some predictions for 2020.

Sir Martin Sorrell, Executive Chairman and Peter Rademaker, Chief Financial Officer report on a year of expansion and integration.

All-in-all, we were firing on all cylinders in 2019, with like-for-like revenue and gross profit up 41% and 44% and pro-forma revenue and gross profit growth of 37% and 39% and an adjusted operational EBITDA margin of almost 20%, after central costs. This performance is planned to continue into 2020, with budgets and plans targeting strong revenue, gross profit growth and improving operational EBITDA margin.

In 2019, we continued to build our existing and new client base and saw significant strengthening and deepening of our content and data and programmatic practices.

  • MediaMonks added Caramel Pictures, a robotic food and drink studio; BizTech, an Adobe specialist; IMA, an influencer marketing agency; Firewood, the largest Silicon Valley digital agency; announced WhiteBalance, an Indian-based creative digital agency; and, finally, after the year end, Circus, a Latin American digital agency.
  • MightyHive added data and programmatic consultancy ProgMedia in Latin America and two data and analytics consultancies, UK-based ConversionWorks and Korea-based MightyHive Korea.

“We are starting to increasingly consolidate our strategic, client content and data and programmatic offer at the S⁴Capital level.”

Our focus on geographical expansion, particularly in Asia Pacific, was further underlined by the appointment of Scott Spirit to the Board of S⁴Capital plc and as Chief Growth Officer. The Board was also strengthened by the appointment of three female Non-Executive Directors.


Our long-term objective is to achieve a geographic distribution of 40% in the Americas, 20% in Europe, Middle East & Africa and 40% in Asia Pacific, particularly given the likely continuing rise of China and India.

The Americas
Europe, Middle East & Africa
Asia Pacific
  • 2,500
  • 30
  • 1
    unitary structure


Our long-term objective is to achieve a practice distribution around 60% content and 40% data, analytics and programmatic, emphasising the growing importance of digital video.

Data, Analytics & Programmatic


  • We actively track our CO₂ emissions and perform better than average compared to a sample of other companies.
  • We have committed to achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2024, in response to the World Economic Forum 2020 Davos Manifesto.
  • Last year, we averaged a 1.01 female-to-male ratio in our Content Practice and 0.80 in our Media Practice (now Data & Programmatic).
  • Across S⁴Capital we donated to 28 charities and, in addition, aim to contribute to society and the needs of the planet with our Projects for Good, which are all related to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. In 2019, we delivered 20 Projects for Good.
  • We also launched S4 Impact Day globally, a volunteering day when all our 2,500 people in 30 countries can tangibly give back to the communities of which they are a part.
  • In Governance, we significantly enhanced the Board with the addition of four new Directors.

The right model for the new marketing age

Your Company’s purely digital model based on first-party data fuelling digital advertising content and data and programmatic is resonating with clients.

The imperative will be to move beyond brand awareness and brand trial to client conversion at scale.

Our business model

A new agile, flexible model for client engagement
Managed service ‘agency’ offering
Hybrid/embedded model
In-housing model
Control relinquished
Control taken
Content Practice
Data, Analytics & Programmatic Practice
Managed service ‘agency’ offering
Control relinquished
Hybrid/embedded model
In-housing model
Control taken

Our four core

We are purely digital
Holy Trinity of: First-party data Digital content Programmatic
Speed Quality Value
With a unitary structure
For the full Strategic Report, please download the S⁴Capital plc Annual Report and Accounts 2019.