VNU post 5 pc organic revenue growth

MUMBAI: Global media company VNU, which owns research and measurement agency AC Nielsen has posted results for the first six months of 2004. It reported organic revenue growth of 5 per cent.

Total revenues, however, decreased by 5 per cent to 1,834 million Euros from 1,939 million Euros in the same period last year as a result of the depreciation in the US dollar.

At constant currencies, total revenues would have amounted to 1,980 million Euros, an increase of 2 per cent versus the same period last year. Operating income too decreased by four per cent to 317 million Euros from 329 million Euros. At constant currencies, operating income would have amounted to 342 million Euros, an increase of 4 per cent.

AC Nielsen delivered good growth in each of its regions, adding clients and increasing market share. However, margins are under pressure in Europe as the company is converting clients to the new data factory there.

AC Nielsen's emerging markets and Asia Pacific regions also showed good organic growth, despite weak economic conditions in some European countries. In mid-June, AC Nielsen began initial operation of its new European data factory, a harmonised processing platform that gives clients access to information via the Web. The first clients are being converted to the new system in Belgium, France and The Netherlands. However, the lengthy and complex process of transitioning all clients to the new factory will take longer than previously expected.

Elsewhere, retail measurement services were expanded in India, Russia, China, and Japan to provide better channel and geographic coverage. Revenues were also higher from consumer panel services in Asia as this business continued to expand its offerings and coverage.

VNU chairman and CEO Rob van den Bergh added, "Importantly, we are seeing double-digit revenue growth in our Advisory Services units, which provide high-value insights and services. These help our clients enhance their targeted marketing efforts and improve their return on investment.

"In Media Measurement & Information, organic revenue advanced by 7 per cent. This was driven primarily by Nielsen Media Research, which grew its US revenues by 11 per cent. Nielsen remains on track to expand its coverage of the US television marketplace by increasing the size of its national TV ratings sample and rolling out its Local People Meter service, despite the public debate.

"The MMI group continues to introduce new services that measure audiences for outdoor media, video games, product placements and sports sponsorships - all advertising growth areas."

Reported cash earnings of VNU rose in the first half of 2004 to 215 million Euros from 201 million Euros in the same period last year. However, at constant currencies, cash earnings would have been 234 million Euros, an increase of 17 per cent.

Net earnings decreased by 12 per cent to 91 million Euros from 103 million Euros as a result of the lower US dollar and higher goodwill amortisation charges.

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