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HIPGNOSIS REPORT: BILLIONS OF REASONS TO ENJOY (UPDATE)

Merck Mercuriadis and his Hipgnosis team have announced their final results for the year ended 3/31 and, as you might expect, they’re mighty impressive.

Among the highlights: the acquisition of no fewer than 84 catalogs for nearly $1.1 billion, including those of Neil Young, Lindsey Buckingham/Fleetwood Mac, Steve Winwood, Debbie Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie, Chrissie Hynde and The Pretenders, Carole Bayer Sager and Barry Manilow and legendary hits by Shakira, Rick James, Enrique Iglesias and The B-52’s. All of which brings the Hipgnosis scorecard to about $2b invested in some 138 catalogs.

And in its recent stock offering on the London Stock Exchange, Hipgnosis wound up oversubscribed to the tune of approximately £156m ($215m), which, Mercuriadis said, “we will deploy this immediately into our pipeline of songs.”

The financial picture, which we will sketch for you in crayon because we spent our formative years cleaning bongs and dreaming about money, shows the firm’s “operative NAV” (net asset value) jumped 11.3% to $1.6829 per share year over year. Total NAV return since the company’s IPO has risen to 40.7%. Streaming income bumped up 18.4% in the second half of the year over the prior six-month period. There’s more in the report, but we’ve been drinking a lot to celebrate our country’s independence from something or whatever and we feel a bit queasy.

But Merck’s feeling quite chuffed, as this typically exuberant, novelistic-in-length quote will amply demonstrate.

“We are delighted to announce a strong set of annual results which reports on a remarkable year for Hipgnosis,” the London-based disruptor declared, noting that the positive results detailed above were achieved “against one of the most challenging backdrops of our lives.” 

“This strong return,” Merck added, “evidences not only our ability to be able to buy and manage our culturally important and extraordinarily successful songs well but also the highly uncorrelated nature of proven songs.

“Whilst we would never have wished for a pandemic, it has not only demonstrated the predictable, reliable and uncorrelated nature of the income of proven songs but also accelerated the change in consumer behavior to consuming music by streaming. Revenues have been highly resistant during the course of this incredibly challenging year and are well placed for future growth, with global streaming adoption beating all expectations—seeing the 30 million paid subscribers when we first started grow to 450 million paid subscribers today to what are forecast to be 2 billion paid subscribers by the end of the of the decade.”

Merck also noted that the long-predicted move to a “utility” is a harbinger of more enormous growth for the biz.

“This has turned music from being a discretionary or luxury purchase to very much being a utility as a result of the convenience and access afforded by streaming," he said. "Going forward this accelerated streaming will be enhanced as revenues from TikTok, Peloton, Triller, Roblox and other rapidly emerging digital platforms start to be paid through. These are new income streams, expected to be a material portion of our revenue going forward, that are not in the data that we buy catalogs on. We are entering an era where now, for the first time ever, almost all consumption of music is paid for.”

 

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