BERLIN (Reuters) - Sales growth accelerated at the top online start-ups owned by German ecommerce investor Rocket Internet during the first six months of 2015 and it said some will break even in two years.
Rocket Internet, Europe’s largest Internet company, is viewed as a launch pad for future stock market listings from online fashion to food delivery firms although several mooted initial public offerings have been put on ice recently.
The company said its top 12 start-ups, or its “proven winners”, saw average weighted net revenues jump 142 percent to 1.37 billion euros ($1.5 billion) in the first half, accelerating from growth of 82 percent in 2014 as a whole.
Rocket Internet’s volatile shares, which have slumped 49 percent this year after it tapped investors to plough cash into online takeaway food and grocery delivery, surged more than 16 percent to 28.23 euros, though that’s well below the 42.50 euro offer price for last October’s initial public offering (IPO).
The biggest revenue increases came at online general merchandise sites such as Jumia in Africa and Lazada in southeast Asia, followed by fashion sites such as Namshi in India.
The “proven winners”, five online fashion firms, three general merchandise sites, two food delivery firms and two home furnishing sites, saw average operating margins rise 6 percentage points, though all continued to make hefty losses.
“A certain number of proven winners will break even in two years,” founder and Chief Executive Oliver Samwer told a capital markets day presentation webcast from London.
The Berlin-based group founded in 2007 said its portfolio value had increased 3.4 billion euros ($3.8 billion) since its listing in Frankfurt last October to 6 billion, in part due to a financing round that lifted the value of online ingredients delivery firm HelloFresh.
Founded by brothers Oliver, Alexander and Marc Samwer, Rocket has set up dozens of ecommerce and online marketplaces, aiming to replicate the success of Amazon and Alibaba in new markets in Africa, Latin America and Russia.
Rocket said it was on track to meet its target of starting 10 new companies this year, with nine already launched.
Analysts expect most Rocket start-ups to make losses for years and Rocket’s presentation for the capital markets day said it was aiming for “long-term market leadership and mid-term profitability”.
First-half revenues for the Global Fashion Group, which incorporates five online fashion firms in emerging markets, rose 63 percent to 418.2 million euros, while the operating margin improved slightly to a negative 36.1 percent from 37.4 percent.
Furniture websites Home24 and Westwing, both seen as eventual IPO candidates, saw revenue rise 98 percent to 117.6 million euros and 48 percent to 108.8 million euros respectively. Operating margins deteriorated to negative 31.7 percent for both firms.
First-half revenues for Rocket Internet itself rose 5 percent to 71.3 million euros but it slipped to a loss of 45.9 million from a profit of 91.9 million a year ago due to a reduction in consolidation gains from companies it no longer owns stakes in.
($1 = 0.8907 euros)
Editing by David Clarke