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  • Data annotation and artificial intelligence company Appen (APX) has soared today after beating its 2019 earnings guidance
  • The company saw healthy boosts to revenue and earnings over 2019, beating its November expectations by roughly two per cent
  • Further, while statutory profits were marginally lower in 2019, underlying profits increased by over 30 per cent
  • Though Appen is breaking into the Chinese market, is said it expects negligible effects from the Covid-19 coronavirus
  • After a morning slump, Appen shares rose just before midday and are currently over eight per cent up at $25.80 each

Data annotation and artificial intelligence specialist Appen (APX) has soared today after beating its earnings guidance for 2019.

The ASX 200 company released its full-year report for January to December 2019 today. Though statutory profit after tax was marginally lower than the year before, a strong yearly boost to earnings and revenue saw the company outperform a weak day for the ASX.

Revenue for the company was 47 per cent higher than 2018, ending 2019 at $536 million for the year. Similar, earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) increased 42 per cent on the year before at $101 million.

Importantly, earnings exceeded company expectations — even after a late-year upgrade. In November 2019, Appen upgraded its earnings guidance for the year from between $85 million and $90 million to between $96 million and $99 million.

Further, while profits were 0.3 per cent lower on the year before on a statutory level, on an underlying level — meaning one-off costs are ignored — net profit after tax was 32 per cent higher on 2018 at $64.7 million.

Appen CEO Mark Brayan said though in early days, the company’s new growth markets are progressing nicely.

“The company’s ability to maintain this high level of growth in revenue and translate this into improving margins and earnings growth, while investing heavily in technology, is a testimony to the strength and durability that we’ve built into the business,” Mark said.

Importantly, while the company is breaking into Chinese markets, Appen said operations in China are young and targets are modest. As such, the company said, the impact from the Covid-19 coronavirus on company operations is expected to be negligible.

Appen has upped its end-of-year dividend by 25 per cent compared to this time last year. The company will shell out a half-franked five-cent dividend to shareholders.

Looking ahead, the company is predicting some healthy earnings growth over 2020. Appen said it expects full-year EBITDA of between $125 and $130 million for the year.

After a morning slump as the whole ASX looked ready to tumble, Appen pulled things back just before midday AEDT and managed to have shares trading green by 8.18 per cent by mid-afternoon. Currently, Appen shares are worth $25.8 cents each in a $3.12 billion market cap.

APX by the numbers
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