Nielsen reported a first-quarter loss and said that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it expects revenue to be down for the year and earnings to be lower than previously expected.
The company said it still planned to split into two companies, one focused on global media measurement, the other Nielsen Global Connect. The spinoff is now not expected to be completed until early 2021 because of the shutdown of government agencies that need to review the transaction, the company said.
Nielsen said that because of the pandemic it expected revenue to be down between 1% and 4% this year. It had previously forecast in increase in revenue of between 1.5% and 3%. It said adjusted its guidance for adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization to a range of between $1.79 billion and $1.86 billion, down from $1.830 billion to $1.910 billion.
The company said the new guidance was based on a recovery from the virus beginning in the second half of 2020.
Nielsen also said that it entered into an information sharing and cooperation agreement with Elliott Management, which owns a 13% stake in Nielsen and had been critical of its financial performance.
The company also said it plans to add former News Corp. and Viacom executive Jonathan Miller to its board.
Nielsen's first-quarter net loss was $18 million, or 5 cents a share, compared to net income of $43 million, or 12 cents, a year ago. The loss was partly caused by costs associated with the company’s separation plan.
Revenue fell 0.3% to $1.6 billion.
“During this unprecedented time, our employees have demonstrated tremendous focus, agility and perseverance, partnering closely with clients to provide the measurement and analytics data that is so critical to clients’ businesses,” said CEO David Kenny. “Our teams have moved quickly to innovate around new ways of collecting and delivering data that is essential to our clients. Moving forward, we will leverage these new earnings to drive permanent process improvement and efficiency.”
“We delivered solid results in the first quarter, but we saw slowing momentum in Connect as the quarter progressed. This trend continued into April, with increased pressure in both Media and Connect primarily in non-contracted revenue,” Kenny said. “We quickly implemented cost actions in the first quarter to mitigate the impact, and we are taking additional actions to protect profits and cash flow amidst ongoing economic uncertainty as we plan for a range of scenarios.”
Kenny said the company remains well-capitalized and that its cost-control action enable it to invest in its strategic priorities.
Nielsen said its Global Media revenues rose 1.9% to $842 million. Audience Measurement revenues were up 1.7% because of continued adoption of the company’s Total Audience Measurement approach. Plan/Optimize revenues were up 2.7% to $227 million.
Nielsen Global Connect revenues dropped 2.7% to $717 million. The company said the COVID-19 pandemic affected its retail measurement business and put pressure on custom insights in its Predict/Activate business.
Nielsen said that the costs in 2020 associated with its separation into two companies is now expected to be between $275 million and $300 million, compared to an earlier estimate of $350 million to $400 million.