Prosus, the subsidiary of South African publishing giant Naspers has this week announced its financial results for the year ending 31st of March 2021. Although the headline numbers for the Naspers/Prosus business as a whole were largely positive with revenue up 32% YoY at $29.6 billion and trading profit of $5.6 billion (up 45% YoY), classifieds revenue growth was slowed by the pandemic.
Bob van Dijk, Group CEO, Prosus and Naspers, commented:
“In a year of extreme global challenge, we have delivered our strongest results to date and accelerated growth right across our consumer internet portfolio. Our strategy to reposition the group for an increasingly online world meant we were well prepared for the acceleration of online adoption through the pandemic. I am proud of our companies and teams who have risen to the challenge of serving our customers through difficult times. Today, our businesses are fundamentally stronger than they were going into the pandemic and are very well positioned going forward. We will continue to invest and innovate to deliver the best experiences for our customers and to maximise the value we create for all of our stakeholders.”
The impact of the pandemic has been particularly strong in Brazil which has suffered half a million coronavirus related deaths since March 2020. In October last year, OLX Brazil (which Prosus operates as a joint venture with fellow classifieds giant Adevinta) took control of leading real estate vertical Grupo ZAP in a deal worth over half a billion dollars. Results for the joint venture over the period were understandably affected with both trading profit and the number of paying listers down YoY.
Despite heavily affected metrics in Brazil, Prosus's classifieds business as a whole was profitable for the second year running. Revenue figures increased among all subsidiaries with OLX Poland the only subsidiary to see increased profit margins (from 42% to 43%).
Despite admitting that classifieds was the business segment most adversely affected at the beginning of the pandemic, a company press release was sanguine on the outlook for the segment going forwards highlighting the favourable headwinds shifting purchases online and the fact that average monthly user figures for OLX were up at 322 million by the end of the year from 300 million over the previous 12 months. Many markets are rebounding and HY2 2021 saw the business's best period to date.