Picture: SUPPLIED
Picture: SUPPLIED

Africa’s largest public company, Naspers, said late on Monday that earnings for the six months to end-September would increase by more than a third.

After revising the previous interim period’s numbers downwards due to an accounting change, core headline earnings per share, which adjusts for nonrecurring and nonoperational items, would rise 35%-43%, the group said.

Without the change to prior numbers, core headline earnings per share would grow 7%-13%.

Last week, JP Morgan reduced its price target for Naspers after doing the same for the group’s main investment, Hong Kong-listed Tencent.

The US bank sees Naspers’s share price reaching R4,000 in December 2019, versus R2,825 on Monday.

JP Morgan said Naspers had made progress in reducing its hefty valuation discount, though the group was still trading at multi-year lows.

Naspers’s share price reached a low of R2,370 at the end of October but has since recovered thanks to Tencent’s turnaround, which continued last week after the Chinese internet giant reported better-than-expected results.

Tencent reported net income of 23.3-billion yuan ($3.4bn) for the September quarter, well ahead of estimates, as revenue rose 24% to 80.6-billion yuan.

Strong growth in advertising and content revenues made up for a slowdown in the gaming business after the Chinese government slowed approvals for new games.

Morningstar analyst Chelsey Tam said in a note last week that Tencent was “severely undervalued”.

The company was expected to achieve a 10-year compound annual growth rate of 20% in operating profits, Tam said.

“As a result of a pause in games approvals in China, we now assume year-over-year online gaming revenue growth to be 6% in 2018," said Tam. “We estimate there will be a rebound in online gaming revenue growth to 16% in both 2019 and 2020 as approval resumes in mid-2019.”

Vestact analyst Bright Khumalo said in a note to clients last week that Tencent’s management team “is doing well to demonstrate that they run a diversified company, not a one-trick pony”.

“Naspers, which holds 31% in Tencent, is still our favourite way to pick up Tencent in a discounted fashion,” Khumalo said.

hedleyn@businesslive.co.za