Nielsen's revenue missed Wall Street expectations, while the adjusted fourth-quarter 2014 earnings of 79 cents per share was just above the estimates. The sluggish growth was blamed on foreign currency effects and a continued softness in developed markets. Nielsen reported 42 cents a share, compared to last year at 38 cents a share, and profits of $158 million; that was up from $145 million last year. Analysts had been expecting per-share earnings of 80 cents on revenue of $1.66 billion.
Revenue nudged up 1.4 percent to $1.63 billion and, excluding currency effects, it grew at 5.4 percent. Watch business revenues were $725 million, which was 45 percent of total revenue for Nielsen; that was up 2.4 percent year over year. That increase was driven by strength in audience measurement, including digital. Nielsen reported total operating expenses of $672 million, that was down 5 percent from the year-ago figure of $707.0 million.
A number of questions in the earnings call centered around audio measurement and the growth in that market. Nielsen responded that audience measurement is going to be in the 5 to 6 percent growth rate range and audio growth in particular at around 6 percent. Chief Executive Officer Dwight Mitchell Barns also remarked that local business grew with the best rate the company has seen in the past several years in 2014. Barns noted, "We had some new capabilities we brought to the market. Our contract renewals were very solid."
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