Source: HelloFresh

Rocket Internet Boosts Startup Sales, Improves Profitability

  • German startup incubator nears year-end break-even target
  • CEO Samwer says quarter showed ‘continuation of our progress’

Rocket Internet SE increased sales and reduced losses at several of its startups in the first quarter, inching closer to a goal of bringing three of the bigger holdings to break-even by the end of the year.

Food-box startup HelloFresh boosted sales 45 percent to 205 million euros ($229 million), while adjusted losses stripping out interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization narrowed at startups including Global Fashion Group, Home24 and Westwing.

"Q1 is the continuation of our progress,” Chief Executive Officer Oliver Samwer said on a call with reporters on Wednesday. He declined to comment on possible IPOs of his startups.

Investors are betting Berlin-based Rocket can improve its businesses after criticizing the startup incubator’s reporting for a lack of transparency and questioning Samwer’s ability to turn profits from units that operate in commodity sectors in challenging markets. The CEO has vowed to make three businesses profitable by the end of the year, a target the company reiterated Wednesday.

Shares of Rocket rose 0.2 percent to 21.40 euros at 9:48 a.m. in Frankfurt. They’ve gained 12 percent this year.

Rocket’s first-quarter loss narrowed to 86 million euros from 342 million euros a year earlier. However, not every metric improved. The number of active customers declined at African e-commerce business Jumia year on year, and Westwing’s adjusted Ebitda margin was worse than in the fourth quarter, according to Alexander Rummler, an analyst at Oddo Seydler.

"A potential IPO of Delivery Hero seems to be the main short-term catalyst of Rocket’s share price,” Rummler said in an emailed note.

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