Nielsen Fourth-Quarter Earnings, Sales Satisfy Wall Street’s Benchmark

TV Ratings currency company renewed big Hearst deal a day before releasing financials

Nielsen’s reported revenue of $1.62 billion beat Wall Street’s $1.61 billion sales forecast for the fourth quarter of 2015. The TV ratings currency company also scored a win at the bottom line by a couple of pennies.

With some accounting that recognized the company’s increased stake in Nielsen Catalina Solutions, quarterly net income rose almost 61 percent to $254 million versus the comparable quarter last year. On an adjusted basis, however, the company’s $300 million profit was actually slightly down year over year.

Per diluted share, those adjusted earnings come out to 82 cents. Yahoo Finance expected 80 cents in earnings per share, while Zacks predicted it’d be 76 cents. Without the adjustments, each NLSN share was looking at 68 cents apiece.

CEO Mitch Barns focused on his full-year results in a prepared statement, calling 2015 “a banner year” for his company. Nielsen Total Audience Measurement rolled out last year, and Barns was pleased with some new client wins across both the Watch and Buy segments.

“We look forward in 2016 with confidence,” Barns said in the Thursday-morning release. “In times of economic turmoil and market volatility, the strengths of Nielsen’s resilient business model are most evident. Our consistent mid-single digit constant currency revenue growth, margin expansion and free cash flow generation continue to be fueled by our core measurement and analytics businesses which remain stronger than ever.

“Our independence, gold-standard measurement, rapidly developing platform for precision marketing, and successful framework for Total Audience Measurement, are some of the most important underpinnings of this resilience, and our client relationships continue to grow as a result,” he concluded.

NLSN stock closed Wednesday at $45.42 per share — up $0.29, or 0.64 percent.

Also yesterday, the company signed a multiyear Hearst Television agreement for Nielsen’s Local Television Measurement. The renewal is for Hearst’s 30 stations and most of the TV stations’ digital sub-channels in 26 U.S. TV markets.

Nielsen senior management will hold an investor call at 8 a.m. ET to discuss company financials.

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