NHN earnings jump by 49 percent

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NHN earnings jump by 49 percent

NHN, Korea’s top Internet portal operator, said yesterday its fourth-quarter earnings jumped 49.1 percent from a year earlier, buoyed by increased revenue from ad and messenger services as well as currency gains from a weakening Japanese yen.

Net profit reached 169 billion won ($155 million) in the October-December period, compared with a profit of 113.3 billion won the previous year, NHN said in a regulatory filing.

Revenue rose 13.8 percent on-year to 652 billion won last year, and operating profit gained 10.6 percent to 200.2 billion won in the cited period.

For the year, the company’s net profit rose 20.7 percent year-on-year to 545.6 billion won. Revenue gained 12.6 percent to 2.4 trillion won, while operating profit rose 7.1 percent to 702.6 billion won.

NHN attributed the stronger bottom line to growing profit from its search advertising business.

The company also said other IT services, such as its flagship messenger service LINE, shored up earnings. Last month, NHN said the mobile messenger service achieved 100 million downloads globally.

Foreign exchange gains from a weakening Japanese yen as well as one-off investment gains also drove up the bottom line, it added.

The fourth-quarter earnings come a day after NHN announced plans to establish new units and spin off Hangame, a game division it acquired in 2000.

On Wednesday, the company said it has won board approval to set up “Mobile Camp” and “LINE Plus” as part of efforts to strengthen its mobile business and messenger service.NHN officials said they plan to allocate roughly 150 employees to each envisioned unit and forecast the number of LINE users to double this year.

The plan is subject to approval at a shareholder’s meeting next month.

Meanwhile, officials said they plan to address the spinoff issue at a March board meeting and a June shareholder’s meeting in a bid to list the game unit by September.

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