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Rubicon Project's Profit Soars

By Daniel Sparks - Updated Feb 27, 2020 at 12:15AM

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The ad tech company flexes powerful financial leverage ahead of its merger with Telaria.

As investors await a pending merger between sell-side ad tech companies Rubicon Project (MGNI -3.43%) and Telaria (TLRA), Rubicon released impressive fourth-quarter results. The company had already announced some key numbers from the quarter in a preliminary update late last month.

But there were some notable key figures missing from that report, including adjusted earnings per share and Rubicon's adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) margin.

On the heels of strong double-digit revenue growth, Rubicon Project's profitability in Q4 skyrocketed. Equally important, management said its acquisition of connected-TV-focused ad tech company Telaria is on track.

Here's a closer look at the results.

A businessperson drawing a line chart with one line that is rising at a steeper rate than the others

Image source: Getty Images.

Fourth-quarter results


Q4 2019

Q4 2018



$48.5 million

$41.4 million


Adjusted EPS




Adjusted cash flow*

$8.9 million

$2.1 million


Data source: Rubicon Project. *Adjusted free cash flow is equal to adjusted EBITDA less capital expenditures. 

Rubicon's revenue jumped 17% year over year to $48.5 million, in line with the preliminary revenue estimate management provided in an update after its fourth quarter closed. Before its preliminary revenue was released, the tech company had guided for revenue to be between $47 million and $48.5 million, and analysts were expecting revenue of $47.7 million.

Going into the quarter, management said it expected its adjusted EBITDA margin for the period to be above 30%. When Rubicon reported its preliminary results, management confirmed that this would be the case, but it didn't provide a specific figure. The company revealed today that its actual adjusted EBITDA margin for the period was 32%, up from 24% in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Total adjusted EBITDA for the period rose 55% year over year to $15.3 million.

Adjusted earnings per share jumped from $0.03 in the fourth quarter of 2018 to $0.17 in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Rubicon Project "demonstrated the powerful financial leverage we have in our business, with fourth-quarter adjusted EBITDA margins of 32% and strong free cash flow," CEO Michael Barrett said about the quarter's results.

Looking ahead

Assuming Rubicon Project's merger with Telaria goes through, video and connected TV (CTV) will steal the show for the combined company in 2020. Rubicon said its total video revenue in 2019 rose 43% year over year to $28.6 million, accounting for 18% of total revenue. Telaria's CTV revenue in 2019 rose about 100% year over year and accounted for approximately 44% of its total revenue. 

"On a combined basis, CTV and Web video will approach half of our total revenue," Barrett said about the pending merger.

Rubicon said its merger with Telaria is on track to close in early April.

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