Picture: SUPPLIED
Picture: SUPPLIED

Naspers said on Wednesday it expected to report profits for the year ended March that were ahead of its own expectations.

The internet holding company said adjusted core headline earnings per share — a metric that excludes one-offs, including the recent sale of Tencent shares — were likely to be up between 70% and 75%.

“It’s a great performance that’s ahead of what we had expected in terms of the business plan,” Naspers chief financial officer Basil Sgourdos said from Hong Kong, where associate company Tencent is listed. Shares in Naspers closed 1.2% up at R3,393 on Wednesday.

Naspers, which expects to publish its results on June 22, had altered the way it accounted for certain items due to “changed circumstances”, Sgourdos said.

It would bring $2.2bn worth of put options — mechanisms to buy out minority shareholders of certain portfolio companies — onto its balance sheet.

This was because Naspers, which is cash-flush after raising funds by trimming its stake in Tencent and selling shares in Flipkart, now planned to settle its put options using cash rather than shares. “At the end of the day I don’t want to dilute my shareholders any more, I have financial flexibility,” he said.

“I want to use the cash that I have on the balance sheet to settle these options, so I think it’s correct to bring [the put options] on balance sheet.”

Because of Tencent’s recent move into video services, Naspers would include the digital content element of Tencent’s amortisation expenses in core headline earnings.

“Normally in core headline earnings we exclude amortisation of intangibles, except where those intangibles are in the normal course of operating the business. For Tencent, historically that wasn’t an issue because they weren’t in video, but over the past two years they’ve really started to invest quite heavily there so I felt it was right to adjust the associates with the way we do it for video [MultiChoice],” Sgourdos said.

Naspers said including the Tencent share sale, its adjusted earnings per share for the year would jump by up to 390%.

hedleyn@businesslive.co.za