Nielsen reported its first quarter results this morning and overall revenue was up 7 percent to $1.3 billion and adjusted EBITDA grew 8.5 percent to $320 million compared to Q1 2010. The company’s exposition group contributed $56 million, a small chunk of the company’s revenue total, but it grew a solid 14 percent versus same period 2010-the largest increase of the company’s five segments.
Nielsen CEO David Calhoun said in a conference call that he felt the quarter was solid and the results reflected "a fully invested company. In other words, the best that we’re making around the world on expanded footprints we continue to make on a very robust pace."
Results in the developing world, he said, were plus 19 percent in the first quarter. Those markets-rural China, rural India and Africa-said Calhoun, will be a key focus moving forward. "As everyone knows, that is my focal point in terms of investment and results."
The exposition segment also performed will in profitability, again returning the highest growth percentage out of the five groups for the quarter. Expos grew profitability 27 percent, to $33 million in adjusted EBITDA, when compared to same period last year.
According to CFO Brian West, the revenue and profitability increases were attributed partly to key property performance and acquisition, plus the first quarter is traditionally a strong one for Nielsen’s show segment.
Nielsen’s IPO in January also helped release pressure on financial performance. "It was a big event for us," said Calhoun. "It helped unleash a natural cashflow. We accomplished all of our objectives and then some with the IPO."
Proceeds from the IPO were used to retire $1.75 billion of debt, with net debt as of the end of March standing at $6.5 billion, with a net debt leverage ratio of 4.5x.