Nielsen had a good year


After a big year of change, CEO David Calhoun says The Nielsen Company is pretty much where he wants it for future growth. In reporting on 2007 results, Calhoun told analysts that staff reductions had been nearly completed by the end of the 2007 reporting period and the head count reduction should be wrapped up by the end of Q1, which happened to be yesterday. Nielsen was taken private last year by a consortium of private equity firms and Calhoun declared that the company has been transformed into a meritocracy. He’s ready for growth and a lot of that is expected to come from the Media segment, led by Nielsen Media Research.

Pro forma revenues for the entire company were up 13% for 2007 to 4.71 billion. Operating income nearly doubled to 416 million from 227 million. And that’s even after last year’s restructuring costs and other one-time charges. Adjusted for those, and, importantly, for currency changes, the company said operating income was up 27%.

Media segment revenues grew 12.2% to 1.57 billion from 1.4 billion the previous year. Nearly 1.3 billion of that came from traditional media measurement, primarily the US television measurement business, up from just under 1.2 billion the previous year. In the quarterly conference call, Nielsen officials noted that the company is continuing to roll out Local People Meters in more US TV markets. Internet measurement revenues grew to 114 million from 94 million.

The Consumer Services segment, led by AC Nielsen, also grew and accounts for more revenue that the Media segment. Consumer Services revenues grew to 2.65 billion from 2.3 billion. However, excluding the impact of the favorable currency exchange rates and a deferred revenue adjustment in 2006, revenues for the segment were up only 6.8%.

RBR/TVBR observation: The new boss has made a lot of changes to re-energize The Nielsen Company. In his discussion with analysts Calhoun noted that, coming in with a fresh view, he saw the need to get the company more focused on mobile measurement to keep up with developing technology. Indeed, in the past year or so we’ve heard Susan Whiting, Executive Vice President of The Nielsen Company and Chairman, Nielsen Media Research, repeatedly pushing the theme of Anytime Anywhere Media Measurement as the company follows people wherever and whenever they consume media, rather than exclusively focusing on their home TV set.

One thing that wasn’t mentioned in yesterday’s call was anything about doing a Wall Street IPO. In the current economy, that may not be a near-term priority. Nielsen continues to be incorporated in the Netherlands, but reports all of its financial data in US greenbacks and makes filing with the SEC. If not for that dual dateline of “New York, USA and Haarlem, The Netherlands” on the corporate releases, you’d hardly be aware that this is not an American company.