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Appen (ASX:APX) - CEO, Mark Brayan - The Market Herald
CEO, Mark Brayan
Source: The Australian
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  • Appen (APX) has laid out its full-year results for the 2020 calendar year, detailing growth on several metrics, spearheaded by its entry into China
  • The developer of datasets for machine learning and artificial intelligence tabled a 12 per cent increase in total revenue to almost $600 million
  • Similarly, underlying EBITDA rose 8 per cent to nearly $110 million
  • The growth was supported by new customer wins, an increase in the number of projects with major customers and revenue growth in China of 60 per cent quarter on quarter
  • The company has declared a final dividend of 5.5 cents per share, 50 per cent franked, and forecast EBITDA of $120 million to $130 million for 2021
  • Shares have been trading 4.6 per cent lower at $19.31

Appen (APX) has laid out its full-year results, detailing growth spearheaded by its entry into China despite pandemic-related challenges.

The developer of datasets for machine learning and artificial intelligence tabled a 12 per cent increase in revenue in the 2020 calendar year to $599.9 million.

In China, Appen's revenue grew 60 per cent each quarter as it secured new customers including some of the country's largest technology companies as well as autonomous vehicle, health and education providers.

The relevance stream accounted for the majority of total revenue, up 15 per cent on 2019 to $538.2 million. Whereas, speech and image revenue dipped 10 per cent to $67.7 million.

Underlying earnings before interest tax depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) also rose 8 per cent to $108.1 million, yet underlying net profit after tax hovered at nearly $65 million.

Appen's revenue growth was supported by 136 new customer wins, a 34 per cent increase in the number of projects with its top five customers and entry into a new market.

The growth, however, was punctuated with pandemic-related hurdles according to Appen CEO Mark Brayan.

"2020 was a breakout year for new sales, new projects, committed revenue and our entry into China, but it was not without its challenges. I am extremely proud of our team's efforts to support our customers and growth strategy, and deliver for our shareholders, in such a difficult year."

Customer wins fell away in the second and third quarters, in line with the shift to remote working, but picked up again in the final quarter of 2020.

Similarly, as online advertising-spend faded away mid-year, so too did customer spending on advertising-related AI programs, resulting in the deferral of some projects.

The company anticipates the majority of these projects will recommence in 2021 and is forecasting a growth in EBITDA for the year to between $120 million to $130 million.

Additionally, Appen has declared a final dividend for 2020 of 5.5 cents per share, 50 per cent franked.

Shares have been trading 4.6 per cent lower at $19.31 at 10:08 am AEDT.

APX by the numbers
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