Nielsen Reports Mostly Strong Quarter, Discloses IAG Details

Nielsen Co., the world's largest media and marketing research organization, this morning reported strong results for the second quarter of 2008, despite a tepid growth in the industries it services, and the weakening performance of its business media group. The quarter also included a major addition to Nielsen's media research assets, the $222 million acquisition of IAG Research that has further consolidated Nielsen's control over the audience measurement business.

Nielsen reported revenues of $1.304 billion for the quarter, an increase of 12% over the second quarter of 2007. For the first half, Nielsen reported revenues of $2.518 billion, an increase of 12% over the first half of 2007.

Details of the results are expected to be discussed later today during a conference call with investors, but Nielsen reported that the most significant development during the quarter was its acquisition of IAG, which boosted its goodwill value during the quarter a corresponding $220 million. Nielsen also disclosed details of an equity participation plan for IAG executives that likely will further their boon from the company's sale to Nielsen. Nielsen said it awarded 382,216 shares to IAG executives with an exercise price of $2.75, and noted that their "fair value" on the May 15th award date was $8.25, indicating that the IAG executives, who include many former Madison Avenue media researchers, stand to reap at least another $2.1 million from their equity in the company.



Not surprisingly, media measurement revenues were one of Nielsen's fastest growing segments during the quarter, rising 13.3% to $426 million. Online measurement revenues rose 19.2% during the quarter.

Consumer services revenues, which includes marketing research, grew 14.0% to $746 million.

Nielsen's business media operations, which include trade publications such as Adweek, Billboard and The Hollywood Reporter, continued to falter, with revenues declining 6% to $131 million due to "lower publication advertising revenues as a result of industry softness" and "relatively flat" exposition revenues.

Rumors of a potential sale of some of Nielsen's flagship business media publications have begun to resurface in recent weeks, despite recent redesigns and new Web sites for several of them.

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