Trade Me result: co. signals more acquisitions, looks at longer bank loan

CEO Jon Macdonald

Trade Me, the online auction site spun out of Fairfax Media in 2011, is in the market for more acquisitions, and may extend its $200 million bank loan.

The Wellington-based company made three purchases last year – the holidayhomes.co.nz directory site, Tradevine inventory management tool and Autobase classifieds site – and plans to keep doing so.

Chief executive Jon Macdonald says the company plans to keep investing as it seeks new growth opportunities, and "we'll likely augment our portfolio with judicious investments over the coming years".

He told analysts there were "clear opportunities in the classifieds business".

"It's quite nice to have three smallish acquisitions under our belt and we're going to continue to grow out muscle in this space," he says.

The online auction site held $36 million in cash and equivalents as at December 31 and chief financial officer Jonathan Klouwens says Trade Me is very happy with the facility, its terms and is looking at extending it.

Trade Me took on the $200 million facility as part of Fairfax Media's partial float, when the Australian firm then drew down $166 million cash as part of its exit.

The online auction site today announced a 2.7 percent increase in profit to $37.4 million, or 9.43 cents per share, in the six months ended December 31. That beat the revised forecast from its initial public offer of $34.8 million and just short of Forsyth Barr analyst Rob Mercer's expected $38.1 million.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation and depreciation climbed 14 percent to $59.2 million, and revenue gained 18 percent to $80.4 million.

Mr Macdonald says the company is comfortable with analysts' forecasts for annual earnings, with trading in the last six weeks consistent with the first half. Trade Me is expected to post net profit of $77.5 million on sales of $163.9 million, based on the median forecasts compiled by Reuters.

The shares fell 2.7 percent to $4.29 in trading yesterday and have gained 11 percent this year.

The stock is rated an average 'hold' based on nine analyst recommendations compiled by Reuters, with a median target price of $4.145.

Trade Me's board declared an interim dividend of 7.5 cents per share, payable on March 26 for shareholders on the register as at March 15.

Its general items revenue grew 7.5 percent to $33.12 million on slightly softer volumes than expected, while classifieds jumped 35 percent to $33.1 million as the company grew its market share of job ads. Other revenue climbed 10 percent to $14.1 million.

Mr Macdonald says Trade Me has expanded its mobile team and built a suite of applications, with a third of visits coming on mobile devices, twice the number a year earlier.

(BusinessDesk)

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3 Comments & Questions

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I have understood why Trade Me does not have a Wanted to Buy section, even if their only revenue from it would be an "advertising fee".

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Should have been " I have never understood why ....."

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Yes you are so dead right!!! I would love Trademe to have a wanted to buy section, surely they could find a way to fund such a service, they manage to find a way to charge for everything else, and don't get me wrong I'm certainly not complaining as the whole Trademe concept is brilliant.

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