Pay television and e-commerce have paid off for Naspers in the six months ended 30 September 2012, with core headline earnings for the period rising to R4,1bn, from R3,5bn a year ago.
Pay-TV subsidiary MultiChoice, which operates DStv, grew its subscriber base by 393 000 subscribers, giving it a base of 6m homes. Revenues in the pay-TV segment were up by 19% to R14,4bn while trading profits grew by 18% to R4bn.
In South Africa, MultiChoice added 187 000 subscribers to bring the total number of households to 4,2m. Its budget DStv Compact bouquet accounted for 87% of this growth.
With the addition of eight new high-definition channels, the South African operation increased sales of its personal video recorder (PVR) decoder by 90 000, bringing its cumulative base to 747 000 households.
At the same time, video-on-demand service BoxOffice, which allows PVR subscribers to hire recent movies on demand for a fee, reached monthly movie rentals of 400 000.
In the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, Naspers grew its subscriber base by 206 000 to reach a total of 1,8m households.
Meanwhile, revenue from Naspers’s e-commerce operations grew by 61% to R4bn. Turnover from all of the group’s Internet businesses, which include its investments in Russia’s Mail.ru and China’s Tencent, grew by 70% to R14,1bn. Tencent and Mail.ru contributed R3,2bn to core headline earnings.
Tencent’s monthly active instant-messaging accounts increased to 784m, with peak simultaneous online users increasing to 167m. Mail.ru now has more than 32m unique users in Russia.
Naspers recorded a non-recurring profit of R1,5bn arising from Mail.ru’s sale of part of its stake in US social networking website Facebook. This profit is excluded from the group’s core headline earnings.
The media group says its focus on e-commerce is reflected in consolidated revenues growing by 22%, to R23bn, during the period. It has invested US$530m to date in e-commerce businesses, which include Netretail, Flipkart and eMag.
During October 2012, Naspers spent $120m to buy a controlling stake in eMag, a Romanian online retailer. It also acquired a minority stake in an Middle Eastern online retailer, the Souq Group.
R1bn spent on development resulted in a trading loss of R767m in the e-commerce division. Naspers says that because it intends to grow these operations even further, it expects a further acceleration in development spending in the second half of the financial year.
Naspers’s legacy print media business performed comparatively poorly, with its businesses in South Africa and Brazil delivering only 5% revenue growth with broadly flat trading profits. — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media