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Saturday 20

October, 201811:59 PM



Seek slumps on earnings slowdown warning

Seek slumps on earnings slowdown warning

Seek has forecast a sharp slow down in earnings and revenue growth for 2018-19, amid increased spending, with the stock falling nine per cent.

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By AAP 06.08.2018 11:38 AM

Jobs site Seek has had nearly $700 million wiped off its market value after flagging a sharp slowdown in forecast earnings and revenue growth, as well as higher-than-expected investment costs.

The group will book a $178 million impairment charge against its operations in Brazil and Mexico for 2017/18, saying deteriorating political and economic conditions in those locations are impacting performance.

Chief executive Andrew Bassat said the cut to the book value of the Brazil and Mexico operations was "unfortunate".

"Performance has been disappointing but we remain committed to these markets," he said in a statement.

"A turnaround of Brasil Online and (Mexico) will require more time and better economic conditions.

"The likely short-term outcome is that financial performance will be worse before an expected sustained improvement."

Morningstar analyst Gareth James said Seek's trading update, which includes several one-off items and rising investment costs, unnerved investors.

"The guidance is becoming more complicated," he said, noting that Seek is also changing how it presents its financial results as announced in June.

"It's quite difficult to verify to what extent costs are capital expenditure for growth and to what extent its just an increase in costs," he said.

However, Seek's non-cash impairment charge against the value of its operations in Brazil and Mexico should not have come as a surprise as the difficult trading environment had previously been flagged, Mr James said.

Seek shares - which have risen sharply in recent months together with other tech stocks - were down $2.00, or 9.2 per cent, to $19.91 on Monday afternoon, giving it a market cap of $6.99 billion, down from $7.69 billion on Friday.

Seek has forecast earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation growth of five to eight per cent for the year ending June 30, 2019 , compared with expected growth of about 15 per cent for 2017/18 - a result at the top end of its guidance range.

Revenue is expected to be up by 16 to 20 per cent for 2018/19, down from growth of about 24 per cent for 2017/18.

The company said the gap between revenue and earnings growth was a result of higher investment - an 80 per cent lift in operating expenditure - in its businesses in China, Australia-New Zealand and Asia.

Mr Bassat said a turnaround of its operations in Brazil and Mexico will take more time and better economic conditions.

Seek will also record a non-cash gain of $36 million on its investment in Chinese career and professional social network, Maimai.

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