South African Internet and media giant Naspers (South Africa: NPN) on Friday reported a sharp increase in fiscal 2018 earnings thanks largely to the sale of a portion of its stake in Tencent Holdings, driving up its shares 3%.
“It was our strongest results in a long, long time,” Basil Sgourdos, group chief financial officer, tells Barron’s. He said the 103-year-old Naspers, which started in print media, improved its cash position by $9.8 billion by cutting the Tencent Holdings (Hong Kong: 0700) stake to 31.2% from 33.2% in March.
“This gives us the firepower to invest in key areas such as online classifieds, food delivery, and fintech, and to move into new areas like ed tech,” Sgourdos says.
Naspers’ net profit for its fiscal year ended March 31 was $11.36 billion, or $26.12 a share, compared with $2.34 billion, or $5.35 in fiscal 2017. Revenue improved 9% to $6.66 billion from $6.10 billion a year earlier. Including equity investments, the company’s annual revenue soared 38% to $20.1 billion.
Naspers’ influence is far and wide. It does business in 120 countries, led by the classifieds business, which reaches 330 million people in 41 countries, and food delivery in more than 40 nations. Its fintech operations in 18 countries processed $25 billion in payments value in fiscal 2018.
Last month, Naspers sold its 11% stake in Indian e-commerce startup Flipkart for $2.2 billion, resulting in a cool $1.6 billion profit.
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