Seek sets sights on overseas markets
Market watch top headlines
SYDNEY, Feb 20 AAP
February 20 2013, 5:41PM
Seek says it will rely on growth in its overseas businesses to make up for an expected shortfall in revenue from Australia, amid fears the local jobless rate will continue to rise.
The online employment group on Wednesday posted a record net profit of $67.5 million for the six months to December 31, up 11.5 per cent from $60.6 million in the previous corresponding period.
The company lifted total first half revenue by 32 per cent to $275.3 million.
However, earnings from Seek's Australian and New Zealand employment arm fell two per cent, reflecting the gradual decline in job advertisement over the half.
"The actual growth came from international and from education, which is pleasing," chief executive Andrew Bassat told AAP.
Seek's education businesses - which include Seek Learning and Think - more than doubled its earnings before tax, interest, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) to $13.62 million, from $5.46 million.
The group also reported strong growth across its international operations, most notably the Chinese employment website Zhaopin and Brasil Online, which posted revenue growth of 13 per cent and 14 per cent, respectively.
Seek on Wednesday announced it had finalised a $US132.8 million ($A129.62 million) deal that saw it increase its stake in Zhaopin from 55.5 per cent to 78.2 per cent.
Mr Bassat said Seek would rely on its global businesses and education arm to sustain growth in the second half, because the company expected the domestic labour market to remain subdued.
"If there is no turnaround, and we see the continuing increase in the unemployment rate and the continuing decline in ad volumes, we will be behind (in the) last half," he said.
"That's the current expectation.
"But we're confident, and that's why we've given the guidance, that the growth we're seeing in both of those two (international and education) for the next half will more than make up for any declines in the employment business."
The company expects net profit for the second half of the 2012/2013 financial year to be "moderately greater" than the first.
Mr Bassat said the market was more positive this year, although confidence was subdued ahead of September's federal election in September.
"We do feel, at some point, that there will be a reduction in unemployment and greater confidence in terms of people hiring and people moving jobs - both of which are very positive for our business," he said.
"Whether that happens in two months time or in 12 months' time is probably a matter of speculation."
Seek's shares were up 70 cents or 7.98 per cent, at $9.47 on Wednesday.
The company will pay a fully franked final dividend of 10 cents per share, up 20 per cent from the previous corresponding period.