EVS can withstand this hurricane


The Liège image server group EVS is scrapping its revenue forecast and its dividend. The uncertain times make the purveyor to major live events cautious, says CEO Serge Van Herck. “EVS is financially healthy enough to sing this out for a while.”

EVS shareholders

should no longer count on a final dividend (EUR 0.50 per share) this year. CEO Serge Van Herck promised that a month ago, but it is killed by the uncertainty that the corona crisis entails.

The world leader in servers for the live imaging of sports competitions and cultural events also swallows his sales forecast of 100 to 120 million euros. No surprise now that the Olympic Games and the European Football Championship are postponed to next year.

The crisis is unseen for Van Herck. ‘The impact is very broad. During the dotcom and financial crisis, damage was limited to specific sectors. “

EVS nevertheless continues to run ‘as best as possible’. 90 percent of the 480 employees work from home. For some this works well, for others with small children it is less obvious. Only 10 percent still work in the office. ” There are no corona patients yet.

Do you use temporary unemployment?

Our production and IT continue to run. We want to present new products after the crisis.

Serge Van Herck: “That is not necessary for the time being. If that changes, it will be a limited number of people. Our production and IT continue to run. We want to present new products after the crisis. ‘

‘Due to the postponement of the European Football Championship and the Olympic Games, some employees have less work. We are looking at how we can use them to optimize IT projects and processes that we would otherwise not be able to get to. ”

How do the staff react?

Van Herck: “The postponement of major sporting events puts our nose at the facts. At the same time, channels and news services are working overtime, which sometimes leads to large orders. So we experience both standstill and growth. ”

“Employees are reassured that the company is financially healthy enough to say this, even if turnover is disappointing in the coming weeks and months. EVS is a strong boat that can sail through the hurricane. Other companies are less fortunate. I expect some accidents in our sector. ”

Can EVS take advantage of that?

Van Herck: “That will show the future, but it may facilitate or speed up takeover talks. EVS, with a net cash position of 46 million euros, is well placed to make acquisitions. We have decided that EVS should be more proactive in this. “

What are you looking to take over?

Van Herck: “We want to expand with complementary solutions, so that we can cover even more parts of our customers’ workflow. The expansion of our product portfolio will be the growth engine in the coming years. ”

‘I am thinking of technology such as artificial intelligence, which can improve the quality of storytelling, to give the viewer a greater wow effect. But also solutions to reduce production costs. “

With its low share price, EVS itself is a take-over issue.

Van Herck: “Many companies are trading at a low valuation today. The question is whether potential buyers have the time, the courage and the means. ”

You pride yourself on a strong balance sheet. Nevertheless, you will delete the final dividend.

Van Herck: “We are careful. Nobody knows where this is going. By scrapping the final dividend, we are keeping 7 million euros in our pocket. We can use that after the crisis. We will continue to repurchase our own shares. ”

The postponement of the Games and the European Football Championship will cost you 12 million euros in turnover. Is there even more pressure on your top line?

Some customers are already preparing for the end of the crisis, when many sports matches have to be covered at the same time due to the tight calendars.

Van Herck: ‘Let me first emphasize that the 12 million euros have not been lost. It is a postponement, not an adjustment. Turnover will shift to next year. That is different for other companies. Their turnover has gone and will not return. ”

Furthermore, we naturally see little buying appetite – customers have other concerns. But some are already preparing for the end of the crisis, when the machine starts up again and because of the tight calendars many sports matches have to be covered at the same time. They then need extra production capacity. ”

Does EVS have enough equipment to absorb that peak?

Van Herck: ‘Certainly. We have made enough servers for the European Championship and the Olympic Games. Due to the postponement, we have luck, in an accident, enough capacity to bet quickly. “

Before the corona crisis, EVS suffered from saving TV channels and television service companies. Will the market ever pick up again?

Van Herck: ‘The need for productions of live events continues to increase. Channels that no longer have the money for the expensive television rights of the major leagues shift their focus to other sports such as women’s football, volleyball and swimming. Those TV rights are also on the rise. ‘

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