May 14, 2019 / 5:55 AM / 4 months ago

UPDATE 1-Norway's Adevinta Q1 profit surges on classified ad push

* Adevinta’s IPO in April was Norway’s most valuable since 2006

* Q1 earnings up 63 pct from year ago

* Seeks to mitigate advertising weakness (Adds quote, background, bullets)

OSLO, May 14 (Reuters) - Adevinta ASA’s first-quarter earnings jumped 63% in a weak market, driven by rapidly expanding classified ad sites such as France’s Leboncoin and Brazil’s OLX, the online advertising group said in its first report as a stand-alone company on Tuesday.

Product enhancements to ensure potential customers had confidence to complete online transactions boosted revenues, Adevinta said, while adding that it was also slashing costs at some of its startup ventures.

Last month, Adevinta became Norway’s most valuable initial public offering in 13 years, priced at about $7 billion.

Quarterly revenue, including joint ventures and associated business, rose 15% to 174.4 million euros ($196 million), while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose 63% to 49.7 million euros.

The company had said in March its first-half revenue growth would most likely lag its long-term target of 15-20 percent growth.

Adevinta said some weakness still persisted.

“Display advertising softness continued through the quarter with key initiatives in place to reverse this trend,” it said, although the second quarter will also be affected.

“In order to mitigate the negative effects we are developing new advertising formats, resolving technical issues with our partners and strengthening our sales forces,” Adevinta said in its earnings report.

The company will cut losses this year from units that are in an early phase of investments, such as in Mexico, targeting a 2019 deficit from such businesses of 10-20 million euros, down from a 43.1 million deficit last year, it said.

Spun off from parent company Schibsted, which remains a majority owner, Adevinta aims to expand via mergers and acquisitions, the company said as it went public.

The separation from Schibsted makes it easier for investors to value Adevinta by comparing with listed peers such as the UK’s Autotrader and Rightmove, Australia’s REA Group and New Zealand’s TradeMe. ($1 = 0.8898 euros) (Reporting by Terje Solsvik; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Gopakumar Warrier)

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