Vice U.K. Grows Full-Year Operating Profit and Revenue, Swings to Loss on Stock Payouts

Shane Smith - H Getty 2016
Credit: Getty / Bobby Bank

The unit of Vice Media records $3.6 million in stock payouts to staff.

Vice Media's Vice U.K. unit posted a 59 percent revenue gain for 2015 and a 133 percent improvement in operating profit before depreciation, amortization and stock-based compensation, but it swung to a loss amid big stock payouts to staff.

Vice Media, led by CEO Shane Smith, has been investing in the U.K. and other international markets, with the U.K. arm's administrative expenses for the year rising. Vice U.K. houses the company's media operations in Britain.

Vice U.K. revenue rose to £26.0 million ($32.2 million) in 2015, with operating profit before depreciation, amortization and stock-based compensation reaching £2.9 million ($3.6 million), a report filed with U.K. regulators on Friday shows.

But the company recorded a pre-tax loss of £145,000 ($180,000), which includes £2.9 million ($3.6 million) in stock payouts to staff, while it had recorded a year-ago profit of £1.6 million. Its after-tax loss of £298,000 ($369,000) compared to a year-ago profit of £1.6 million. The size of the stock payouts to staff was the result of an equity program, with its size matching that of the company's operating profit before items by coincidence.

The results come as the company reinvested money to launch new digital channels focused on video, develop more original programming and build out its digital products and staff. Vice U.K. said its employee base expanded by 48 percent to 169.

Revenue growth was driven by content agency Virtue and new digital verticals, such as Vice Sports and Broadly, the company said.

"Our strategy of continued expansion in the U.K. — aggressively growing our digital, linear and mobile offerings, building out our extensive library of award-winning content, reinvesting to acquire and develop leading talent and programming, and partnering with the industry's most forward thinking brands — has paid off with a strong financial performance for 2015," said a Vice U.K. representative.

For 2016, Vice U.K. said revenue "is expected to exceed £31 million," which under current exchange rates would mean $38.5 million-plus.