Nielsen Turns 3Q Profit as Revenue Declines

Nielsen reported a third-quarter profit as it cut costs amid the COVID-19 pandemic and prepared to sell off its Global Connect business.

On Sunday, Nielsen announced that it would sell Nielsen Connect for $2.7 billion. It had previously planned to spin the unit off into a separate company.

Third quarter net income was $7 million, or 2 cents a share, compared to a net loss of $472 million, or $1.33 per share, a year ago. The 2020 results included restructuring charges, higher depreciation and amortization expenses. The year-ago quarter included a $1 billion write down of goodwill at Nielsen Connect. 

Adjusted earnings per share were 43 cents a share, down from $51 cents a share. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization were up 5.3% to $601 million.

Revenue fell 3.3% to $1.563 million.

The company raised its forecast for 2020 adjusted EBITDA to between $1.85 billion and $1.88 billion from $1.8 billion to $1.86 billion, and its forecast for free cash flow to $530 million to $550 million from $480 to $530 million. Earnings per share are expected to be between $1.54 and $162, compared to earlier guidance of $1.50 to $1.62 free cash flow.

The company continues to expect that revenues will be down 2% to 4%, mainly because of the impact of the pandemic.

The forecasts exclude separation related costs of $175 million to $225 million.

“We delivered strong results in the third quarter, building on our track record of successful execution. All key metrics for both Media and Connect were in-line or ahead of expectations. Our teams moved swiftly to enact our optimization plan, driving operational efficiencies and permanent cost savings,” said CEO David Kenny.

Nielsen said that revenue at its Global Media business fell 3.9% to $836 million. Audience measurement revenue slipped 1.3%. Plan/Optimize revenue decreased 10.4%. 

Measure revenue decreased 1.9% and predict/activate revenue decreased 4.2%.

“We made strong progress on key initiatives in the quarter, particularly cross-media measurement with expansion of our Connected TV footprint to now include YouTube and YouTubeTV,” Kenny said. “We continue to focus on expanding our role in the ecosystem, enabling content and measuring outcomes across key advertising categories. As we look forward, we remain focused on executing on our growth strategies that will enable us to better serve our clients.” 

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.