Can Pippa Leary stem Swift’s share price plunge?
Link copied to
Pippa Leary is about to clean house at flailing ad business Swift Media (ASX:SW1).
Leary is the new CEO at Swift, a company beginning to make serious money but with a share price that’s been dropping for the last 12 months.
“One of the things we need to do now, and this work has begun, is work out where do we want to play and how do we want to win,” Leary, whose media resume spans 20 years as a digital media executive at Nine Entertainment (ASX:NEC) and Fairfax, told Stockhead.
“My job is to lead the company forward doing that.”
Swift is an ‘out of home marketing platform’. In other words, it sells curated television streams into captive markets, such as old folks’ homes or mining camps, and tailors the content and the ads to the audience.
Financially, up until the end of December 2018, the company had been smashing it.
Half year revenue was up by $2m on 2017 to $12.5m.
The loss went from $8m to just $756,000.
And they’ve been winning deals everywhere.
Swift bought Medical Media in December for $4.5m in stock, giving it access to 2300 screens in medical clinics across Australia, signed a couple of esports deals — one to be the exclusive esports provider to Hoyts — got into Vietnamese hotel rooms, and kept building a presence in aged care and mining camps.
But that mixed bag of deals is part of the problem: the share price has been on a one-way streak downwards since peaking at 50c in December 2017 and 48c in July 2018.
Leary’s grand entrance alongside new chairman Darren Smorgon provided a 34 per cent spike yesterday.
Leary speculates the weak share price is due to not having a well articulated strategy or a well explained way to get it done.
Hence why she is planning to figure out which verticals are Swift’s strong suits and tighten up the “nexus between product marketing and sales”.
Leary left Nine in March, but before that she’d run an advertising joint venture between Nine and Fairfax Media called APEX, launched titles like Business Day for Fairfax, and helped that company buy outfits like RSVP.
So she has form as a media exec, and firm ideas on what makes a good media business.
“I don’t think there’s any death of great content, and great is in the eye of the beholder,” she says.
“People either want to be entertained or informed. The need for those two things has never been greater.”
Her job, as she sees it, is to deliver user friendly technology and content that people want to view using that format.
She says Nine does this well, recognising that some people are “cord-evers” — people who will only ever watch free-to-air television — and others are “cord-nevers” who never do.
So they have a variety of ways, from an app to the television channel, where people can access their shows.