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Nielsen Reports $109M Loss in Fourth Quarter

Nielsen reported a loss in the fourth quarter as the company prepared to split into two companies under pressure from shareholders.

Net loss for the fourth quarter was $109 million, or 31 cents a share, compared to a net loss of $952 million, or 2.68 a share, a year ago. The results include a non-cash charge of $170 million to settle pension plan obligations.

Revenue was $1.69 billion, up 2%.

Nielsen Global Media revenues increased 2.3% to $899 million. Audience measurement revenue increased 0.8%, due to client adoption of the Total Audience Measurement system, offset by pressure in local television measurement, the company said.  

The local TV market has gotten more consolidated and more competitive, with Nielsen and Comscore jockeying for position with station owners. While conditions may be suppressing how much measurement companies can charge for they’re services, they are also adding new products to target auto intenders and voters.

Plan/Optimize revenue increased 6%, driven in part by growth at Gracenote, the company said.

Nielsen Global Connect revenue increased 1.6% to $802 million.

The company offered guidance that indicated that 2020 won’t be much better than 2019. Nielsen said it expected that in 2020, revenue growth would be between 1.5% to 3%, compared to 1.7% growth in 2019; that adjusted EBITDA would be $1.83 billion to $1.91 billion compared to $1.853 billion and that adjusted earnings per share will be between $1.67 and $1.80 compared to $1.80.

“2019 was a year of tremendous change and progress at Nielsen and I'm extremely proud of the way our teams executed. We delivered solid results and achieved or beat the goals we set out for 2019. Our results reflect increased financial discipline and operational progress as we focused on building a strong foundation for the future,” said CEO David Kenny.

"In 2020, our top priority is to execute on our strategic growth plans for Nielsen Global Media and Nielsen Global Connect," Kenny added. "In Media, we are investing in our digital transformation and global adoption of One Media Truth, which we expect will result in faster growth over time. In Connect, the investments we've made in the Nielsen Connect platform and in automating operations have led to improved performance, and we continue to drive this turnaround. At the same time, we are making good progress on the planned separation of Global Media and Global Connect, which is targeted for completion within 12 months from the initial announcement in November 2019. We believe that each business is well-positioned for success as a standalone company and remain confident that this separation is the best path forward to enhance strategic focus, growth and long-term shareholder value."