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Schibsted Advances as Online Unit Growth Accelerates: Oslo Mover

July 19 (Bloomberg) -- Schibsted ASA, Norway’s biggest media group, climbed to the highest price since it sold shares in Oslo more than 20 years ago after growth at its online classified unit accelerated.

The shares rose as much as 7 percent to 302.4 kroner, the highest level since July 1992. The stock was up 6.1 percent at 299.8 kroner as of 11:28 a.m., making Oslo-based Schibsted the biggest gainer on the benchmark OSEBX index today and giving the company a market value of 32.4 billion kroner ($5.4 billion).

Schibsted, which traces its roots back to 1839, is expanding its online business as readers increasingly forgo traditional print media. Web-based operations, which include Leboncoin.fr, one of France’s 10 most-visited websites, contributed 45 percent of second-quarter revenue, up from 39 percent a year earlier, it said today.

“The numbers were better than expected, especially in online classifieds, which is really what’s driving the share price,” Preben Rasch-Olsen, an analyst at Carnegie ASA, said in an interview. “They show that they are able to make money from the printed newspapers as well. Revenues were up, which is impressive, and costs were down even more than expected.”

Underlying revenue rose 2 percent in the second quarter, as underlying sales at the online classifieds unit climbed 15 percent, accelerating from 11 percent in the first quarter.

Schibsted, which also owns Aftenposten, Norway’s largest newspaper, and Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet, is investing to boost growth and plans to spend 500 million kroner to increase revenue as it seeks to replicate the success of its Finn.no, Blocket.se and Leboncoin.fr websites in nations including Malaysia and Brazil.

Second-quarter earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation dropped to 555 million kroner from 600 million kroner a year earlier, beating the 519.3 million-kroner average of nine analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

To contact the reporters on this story: Alastair Reed in Oslo at areed12@bloomberg.net; Saleha Mohsin in Oslo at smohsin2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christian Wienberg at cwienberg@bloomberg.net

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