“Q4 2014 was an eventful quarter for Schibsted. An important milestone was our agreement with Naspers. Together, we will form joint ventures in several important emerging markets, with Brazil as the biggest. A merger of two large classifieds sites significantly increases the value for the consumers in a market. More items for sale will be available on one site, and for sellers more buyers will see your ad. We expect that forming the joint ventures will increase the probability for being able to create clear market leaders in a more efficient manner,” CEO Rolv Erik Ryssdal says.
“The joint venture agreement means that we will reduce our investment spend considerably in 2015. It also frees up resources we will use in order to further strengthen the development of both our fully owned established operations and in operations in an earlier stage,” Rolv Erik Ryssdal says.
“In Q4 we saw continued solid top line growth and stable operating margin from our French online classifieds site Leboncoin.fr. The site now focuses on taking a good position in the French real estate market. Our Spanish operations grew revenues for the first quarter in almost three years. Having now closed the acquisition of Milanuncios.com, I see a positive outlook for our Spanish operations in 2015. A soft spot in the Q4 report is Finn.no, where the revenue development is disappointing. Our decision to boost traffic by turning the private part of the generalist vertical into freemium and the negative development in the Norwegian recruitment market slowed down Finn’s revenue development,” Rolv Erik Ryssdal says.
“Our media houses continue to develop well online. VG and Aftonbladet combined produce stable margins and close to stable revenues as a result of their success online. Subscription based newspapers face some more headwind from print advertising decline. However, they have positive circulation trends as a result of well received, innovative online products,” Rolv Erik Ryssdal says.
“To support both the online classifieds and the media houses, we are strengthening our efforts within digital development. Centralized teams for online platforms, login services and advertising technology are being established. We are convinced that this will be a vital building block for continued success in the online market. In 2015, these initiatives will imply additional operating expenses for Schibsted,” CEO Rolv Erik Ryssdal says.
Highlights of Q4 2014
(Figures in brackets refer to the corresponding period in 2013.)
- Stable EBITDA of NOK 453 million (455 million). Excluding investments in New Ventures in Online classifieds, the Group EBITDA was NOK 559 million (672 million).
- Online classifieds EBITDA margin of 27 percent (22%), 37 percent (44%) excluding investments in New Ventures
- 20 percent revenue growth and stable margins in France. Real estate monetization to be gradually ramped up as the cooperation agreement with Spir expired at the end of the quarter.
- Revenue growth for the first quarter in 11 quarters in Spain. Improved macro and better traffic development and the integration of Milanuncios.com creates platform for revenue growth.
- Strong growth in volume as a result of freemium strategy for Finn.no. Revenue growth hampered by weak employment market in Norway.
- Joint ventures established with Naspers in four key emerging markets, including Brazil. Will speed up the development towards profitability and reduce the investments required.
- Continued strong growth in key performance indicators in most markets like Brazil, Chile and Finland. Significant uplift in traffic and user engagement in Morocco after merger with Avito.
- Schibsted has agreed with Naspers to take over their OLX-operation in Hungary. Schibsted will sell its operations in Romania and Portugal to Naspers.
- Continued good traction in Germany for the mobile-only classifieds app Shpock.
- The traffic development is strong in most sites in the portfolio.
- Mixed development in Media houses.
- Strong online positions and tight cost control secure stable revenue development and firm margins for VG and Aftonbladet. Mobile and web TV main contributors to digital growth.
- Increased subscription revenues for morning newspapers as a result of attractive digital products, which is offsetting some of the print advertising decline.
- Accelerated print advertising decline. Continuous work on adapting cost base.
- Steady growth and margin improvement for personal finance services.
- Dividend proposed at NOK 3.50 per share for 2014.
Gross operating profit (EBITDA)
Gross operating profit (EBITDA) ex. Investment phase
EBITDA margin ex. Investment phase
Share of profit (loss) of joint ventures and associated companies
Profit (loss) before taxes
*) Restated figures
Schibsted invites to an analyst and press conference at Apotekergaten 10, Oslo, 13 February 2015 at 09:00 CET. The presentation will be held in English and transmitted live as a video webcast on www.schibsted.com/ir.
A conference call with Q&A linked to the Q4 2014 numbers will take place 13 February 2015 at 14:00 CET. Please dial in at the following numbers:
International: +44(0)20 3427 1912
From Norway: 800 56 054
Conference code: 5331731
Trond Berger, CFO. Tel: +47 916 86 695
Jo Christian Steigedal, VP Investor Relations. Tel: +47 415 08 733
Anders Christian Rønning, Investor Relations Officer. Tel: +47 916 56 660