(2nd LD) Naver Q4 net profit soars 129 pct on strong commerce, fintech biz

South Korean tech giant Naver Corp. said Friday its fourth-quarter net profit jumped 129 percent from a year earlier, largely driven by robust growth of its commerce and fintech businesses. The net profit came to 301.8 billion won (US$226.6 million) in the three months ending in December, compared with 131.8 billion won a year ago, the company said in a regulatory filing. The operating profit for the October-December period was 405.5 billion won, up 20.5 percent on-year, and sales rose 11.7 percent on-year to 2.53 trillion won. For the whole of 2023, Naver's net income reached 988.4 billion won, up 46.8 percent from the previous year. The annual operating profit rose 14.1 percent on-year to reach a record 1.49 trillion won, and revenue also gained 17.6 percent to an all-time high of 9.67 trillion won. Naver said its major businesses delivered a strong overall performance in the fourth quarter. Its flagship search platform division saw its sales rise 1.3 percent on-year to 928.3 billion won, thanks to c ontinued high demand for search advertisements. Sales of its commerce division soared 35.7 percent to 660.5 billion won as the value of total commerce transactions increased 11 percent on-year to 12.4 trillion won in the October-December period. Naver's social commerce platforms -- Poshmark and Kream -- also contributed to the brisk sales from commerce. Sales of its fintech division also increased 11.3 percent to 356 billion won, thanks to a 23.9 percent jump in the value of quarterly transactions in the fourth quarter. The content division also saw its sales advance 6.6 percent on-year to 466.3 billion won, powered by growth of its webtoon business and strong sales of its mobile camera application, Snow. Transactions on the global webtoon platform, in particular, grew 9.3 percent on-year to 444 billion won, according to the company. The cloud division also saw its sales grow 13.3 percent on-year to 125.9 billion won. Naver CEO Choi Soo-yeon said the company has worked to increase its profitability in 2023 and will focus on strengthening its competitiveness in core businesses with artificial intelligence and data technologies this year. In a conference call, Naver CFO Kim Nam-sun said the company plans to hand out a total of 118.9 billion won worth of cash dividends to its shareholders. Shares in Naver shot up 5.19 percent to 374,500 won on the Seoul stock market as of 10 a.m., outperforming the broader Korea Composite Stock Price Index's 1.27 percent gain. Source: Yonhap News Agency