Naspers’s stake in Chinese internet company Tencent is increasing as a percentage of group revenue, while losses at some of its e-commerce enterprises are rising, interim results released by the group on Wednesday showed.

Core headline earnings per share (HEPS) grew 65% to $3.50 in the six months to end-September, roughly in the middle of its recent guidance.

The group, which makes up almost 20% of the JSE all-share index, reported trading profit increased 40% to $2.1bn, 52% in rand terms, notably due to a healthy boost from Tencent, of which it owns about a third.

Group revenue, measured on an economic-interest basis, increased 33% to $9bn, with internet revenues increasing 42% to $6.9bn. On a consolidated basis, excluding equity-accounted investments, group revenue increased 5%.

The results reflected that Naspers had made little headway over the period with management’s stated aim of reducing reliance on Tencent, and diversifying the group’s exposure to other market segments.

Trading profit for the internet segment was $1.8bn — up 47% year on year. This segment now contributes 77% of group revenue, compared to 72% last year.

While revenue in e-commerce increased 15% year on year to $1.6bn, overall trading losses increased 9% to $318m. The group said it would continue with its investments in e-commerce, but while revenue has grown, segmental profits remained elusive.

The group is expanding its online food-delivery footprint in the e-commerce segment.

Overall, the video-entertainment business recorded modest subscriber growth over the period with the total base closing at 12.2-million households as at the end of September. In SA, DStv had a stable performance, the group said.

Revenue at Media24 increased 11% year on year to $315m, while trading profit grew 75%. Development spend of consolidated businesses was down 18% from the prior year.

Rating agencies have indicated that Naspers’s development spend was a major factor in the sub-investment rating of its capital issuances. Excluding the investment in controlled newer initiatives, such as classified advertising company Letgo and TV-streaming service Showmax, which totaled $155m, development spend on older investments decreased 12%, Naspers said.

The group said it intended to bring its e-commerce business to profitability and would also continue to invest in emerging businesses that may power future growth.

At 3.25pm, Naspers’s share price was up 0.27% to R3,790.

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