South Africa's Naspers FY earnings contract 2 pct

Mon Jun 23, 2014 1:32am EDT

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JOHANNESBURG, June 23 (Reuters) - South African e-commerce and media firm Naspers reported a 2 percent contraction in full-year earnings after ratcheting up spending on expansion.

Naspers' core headline earnings per share decreased to 2,181 cents from 2,216 cents for the year ended March 31. Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast they would rise by as much as 15 percent.

Naspers treats core headline earnings, which exclude some one-off items, as the main measure of profit.

Naspers' will pay a 425 cent per share dividend, 10 percent higher than the previous year.

The company's revenue grew 26 percent to 62.7 billion rand ($5.85 billion) while development spending jumped 79 percent to 7.7 billion rand.

The company has been strengthening its e-commerce muscle and in February plucked the head of its eastern European on-line marketplace, Bob van Dijk, as its new CEO.

Naspers' 33.73 percent stake in Tencent, China's largest listed tech firm with a market value of nealy $140 billion, is worth nearly as much as Naspers' market value.

The share price has gained 16 percent this year to nearly 1,270 rand, driving it price earnings ratio to 99 times and making it one of the most expensive stocks on the Johannesburg bourse. ($1 = 10.7127 South African Rand) (Reporting by Helen Nyambura-Mwaura; Editing by Ed Stoddard)