South Korea’s dominant chat platform operator Kakao Crop.’s operating profit for the fourth quarter declined 9% on year due to increased investment in new technology development such as artificial intelligence (AI) and one-off bonus payment, but surged more than 40 percent for the full 2017.
The company reported in a regulatory filing on Thursday that its operating profit on a consolidated basis for the fourth quarter ended December last year dropped 9.1 percent on year to 34.7 billion won ($31.8 million), but revenue rose 20 percent to 544.7 billion won.
For full 2017, operating profit jumped 42.1 percent from a year earlier to 165 billion won and sales grew 20 percent to 1.97 trillion won.
Shares of Kakao Thursday closed at 126,500 won in Seoul trading, unchanged from the previous session.
Kakao, operator of the nation’s largest mobile messaging app Kakao Talk, attributed the drop in the fourth-quarter operating profit to increased commission fees, year-end bonus payment worth 17.6 billion won and heavy investment in new businesses such as artificial intelligence (AI).
But its revenue maintained growth momentum, with well-balanced, solid growth across sectors. According to the company, revenue from the advertising sector increased 13 percent on year during the October to December period last year, with that from the contents business up 20 percent and others including e-commerce business 31 percent. The annual sales of the respective businesses were up 12 percent, 40 percent and 71 percent.
Its contents business that provides mobile games, music streaming service Melon and other contents continued to contribute largely to the company’s overall revenue growth, accounting for nearly half of its revenue in the last three months of last year, the company said in a statement.
Kakao said that it will focus more to advance its messaging app Kakao Talk as a multi-purpose mobile platform this year and will apply AI technology to almost every service. An official from the firm said the company will aggressively seek to enter the global market with its webtoon, game, music and video services, and strengthen synergy effect among its business units such as cab-hailing app Kakao T and mobile payment service provider Kakao Pay.
By Lee Sun-hee and Choi Mira
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