Naspers profit growth slows

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naspers INDEPENDEENT MEDIA Naspers' stable of publications as seen on a plinth outside the company's Johannesburg office, Media Park. File picture: Independent Media

Johannesburg - Naspers, Africa’s largest company by market value, said full-year profit rose at the slowest pace in at least six years after the media company’s strategy of investing in TV, Internet and e-commerce businesses weighed on earnings.

Adjusted net income increased by 1 percent to 8.6 billion rand in the 12 months through March, the Cape Town-based company said in a statement today.

The company also announced a 1.6 billion-rand impairment charge after some e-commerce units, including Markafoni of Turkey, missed targets.

“While aggressively investing for the long term limits short-term earnings and cash flows, we believe this strategy to be sound,” the company said.

“Our established businesses should continue to be in the aggregate cash flow positive, profitable and growing.”

Naspers, which owns stakes in Hong Kong-based Tencent and Russian Internet company, is reporting its first earnings under chief executive Bob Van Dijk, who replaced billionaire Koos Bekker on April 1.

The company plans to spend more than 7 billion rand in expanding digital-TV access in Africa and grow the e-commerce unit.

Naspers shares declined as much as 3.8 percent, the most on an intraday basis since April 30, and traded 3.3 percent lower at 1227.95 rand as of 9:21 a.m. in Johannesburg.

The stock has gained 12 percent this year, giving it a market value of 513 billion rand.

That compares with an 11 percent increase on the FTSE/JSE Africa All-Share Index.

The stock more than doubled in 2013.

Subscribers to the group’s pay-television service increased by 1.3 million to more than 8 million homes, the company said.

Revenue rose 26 percent to 62.7 billion rand as Internet sales advanced 65 percent.

E-commerce businesses, including FashionDays, Brandsclub and Markafoni, missed targets, the company said.

Naspers also wrote down its investment in Brazilian publisher Abril. - Bloomberg News

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