Naspers has reported a jump of 112% in half-year profit, boosted by improved performance of its e-commerce businesses and China’s Tencent, adding that its e-commerce portfolio was now close to breakeven.
“After years of investment and growth, our businesses are now at scale and demonstrate improving profitability,” said interim CEO Ervin Tu, adding that the company expects these investments to become profitable in the current financial year ending 31 March 2024, or six months sooner than expected.
The South African technology investor said core headline earnings per share, a key indicator of operating performance, rose to US$4.54 for the six months ended 30 September 2023, more than double a restated $2.14 posted a year earlier.
These cover food delivery companies iFood of Brazil, Delivery Hero and India’s Swiggy, online marketplaces such as OLX, educational software firms such as SkillSoft and Stack Overflow, and payments companies such as India-focused PayU.
Naspers reported an e-commerce trading loss of $38-million, shrinking 85% from a loss of $270-million.
Revenue from continuing operations grew 14% to $3-billion, with the biggest contributors being classifieds, food delivery, and payments and fintech, it said.
Prosus also holds a massive stake in Chinese software and gaming giant Tencent, which it sold down to 25% from 26.2% over the past six months, to fund a rolling share buyback programme.
Naspers and Prosus buybacks
Naspers and Prosus say the buybacks benefit shareholders because Prosus is worth 30% less than the value of the Tencent stake, or $98-billion at current prices.
Prosus took a $340-million impairment charge on the valuation of Stack Overflow, a knowledge-sharing website used by programmers that it bought for $1.8-billion in 2021.
While the site’s business has been hurt by the swift rise of ChatGPT as an alternative tool for programmers, Tu said Prosus was integrating artificial intelligence tools into Stack Overflow and viewed generative AI as an opportunity. “We have made three investments into AI companies so far, and expect more to come,” Tu added. — (c) 2023 Reuters