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Nielsen loses quarter of its value on bevy of bad news

[NEW YORK] Nielsen Holdings lost about a quarter of its market value Thursday after cutting its profit forecasts and saying its chief executive officer will retire, plunging the consumer-data giant into upheaval.

Shares tumbled as much as 27 per cent to a record low, wiping out about US$2.8 billion in value, after both second-quarter profit and revenue missed analyst estimates. The tracker of TV consumer habits also said it has started a "strategic review" of one of its key segments.

While the company is pursuing a plan to bolster its performance, "our progress was not reflected in our financial results, which are disappointing and came in below our expectations," chief financial officer Jamere Jackson said in the statement. It now estimates 2018 net income will be between 95 US cents and US$1 per share, down from a previous range of US$1.50 to US$1.56. The company also lowered free cash-flow forecasts.

Nielsen is mulling options for its Buy segment, which tracks consumer purchases (its Watch unit focuses on its better-known practice of monitoring TV, radio and internet habits). The company said it doesn't have a fixed timetable for completing the strategic review.

The New York-based company said it had US$394 million of cash and cash equivalents as of June 30, while net capital expenditures in the quarter totalled US$118 million.

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