Media giant Naspers on Wednesday (27 June) reported a 19% rise in consolidated revenues for the year ended March 2012, to R39.5 billion, buoyed by its internet businesses, where revenues jumped 59%.
Operating profit however, declined to R3.202 billion from R4.056 billion, due mainly to accelerated consolidated development costs which ballooned to R2.8 billion from R1.5 billion in 2011.
Total core headline earnings were R6.9 billion – an increase of 15% on the prior year. It reported a 16% rise in fully diluted headline earnings per share to R12.54 for the year ended March 2012‚ from R10.82 a year ago.
The group’s board recommended that the annual gross dividend be increased by 24% to 335 cents per listed N ordinary share, and 67 cents (previously 54 cents) per unlisted A ordinary share.
The pay-television businesses recorded growth of 684,000 subscribers in the year and the total base now stands at 5.6 million homes. Revenues were up 15% to R24.1 billion, while trading profits grew 11% to R6.3 billion. “We continue to reinvest in the business, including upgrading our technology and broadcast infrastructure. In South Africa the gross base added 492,000 to some four million households, of which 293,000 new clients came from the lower-priced Compact bouquet,” it said.
Naspers added that the roll-out of BoxOffice, where PVR subscribers view the latest blockbuster movies, proved popular with an average monthly rental of more than 300,000 movies.
In the rest of Africa our subscribers increased by 192,000 to reach 1.6 million homes. The lower-priced Compact/Family bouquets now account for 42% of the base.
The group said that trading margins were reduced by investment in local content, decoder subsidies and the development of new products.
Digital terrestrial services, under the brand name GOtv, were launched in Zambia, Uganda, Kenya and Nigeria. “We plan to continue investing in digital terrestrial networks”.
Competitive pressures and regulatory scrutiny continue to intensify across the continent, it said.
Overall the internet segment reported revenue growth of 59%. Increased focus on organic expansion and expensing that cost, meant that trading profits increased at a slower rate of 9% to R3.8 billion, Naspers said.
In China, Naspers highlighted a “lively year” for Tencent in which it enhanced its core user experience and achieved growth in both revenue and earnings. “Our share of its revenues grew by 59% to R11.5 billion and core headline earnings were up 38% to R4.4 billion. Peak simultaneous online instant messaging users increased by 22% to 167 million, while total user accounts grew to 752 million,” it said.
In Russia, Mail.ru delivered strong growth in communication, online gaming and social networks. Mail.ru’s portal reached 33 million unique users. Naspers said its share of Mail.ru’s reported revenues grew by 66% to R1.1 billion and core headline earnings were up 139% to R364 million.
In aggregate other internet businesses together also reported robust revenue growth of 57% and a trading loss of R1.2 billion, the direct result of increased organic development costs. In Eastern Europe Allegro grew revenues by 58% as it broadened its product offerings and diversified its revenue streams. In Latin America Naspers said its e-commerce business BuscaPe continued to make headway as it more than doubled its revenue.
Looking ahead, Naspers said that in general, the broader markets and specific business sectors in which it operates remain vibrant. “While significant competitive, regulatory and technology challenges present themselves, so do opportunities. We will continue to explore these opportunities with the objective of growing our businesses for the long term,” it said.