Liberty Interactive Corp. (formerly Liberty Media Corp.) stands by your right to shop at home and online. The company focuses on television and e-commerce sales through its QVC home-shopping subsidiary and numerous online businesses, including CommerceHub, Backcountry.com, Bodybuilding.com, and the online invitation site Evite. It also holds equity stakes in companies like Internet travel service Expedia, HSN, and LendingTree, among others. Liberty Interactive Corp. was formed in 2011 when its predecessor restructured by merging and splitting off its Liberty Capital and Liberty Starz businesses under a newly-formed holding company, also called Liberty Media.
Liberty Interactive operates through two main business divisions: QVC and Digital Commerce.
QVC is the company's cash cow subsidiary, accounting for 84% of its total sales in 2014. The television brand broadcasts live shopping programs and sells merchandise online in the US and abroad. Home products made up 32% of QVC's sales in 2014, while beauty and apparel products generated 17% and 16%, respectively. Jewelry, accessories, and electronic product sales each contributed more than 10% of QVC's total sales for the year.
Digital Commerce accounts for the remainder of Liberty's sales. Subsidiary companies under Liberty's online umbrella include outdoor gear e-tailer Backcountry.com; sports, fitness and nutrition seller Bodybuilding.com, which is one of the largest e-tailers in the supplement industry; CommerceHUB, a provider of Software-as-a-Service platforms for online retailers and their suppliers; Evite; and LMC Right Start.
The company also has equity stakes in Expedia, HSN Inc., FDT Companies, Interval Leisure Group, and LendingTree.
Liberty Interactive rings up about 70% of its sales in the US. Overseas, Japan and Germany each account for about 10% of the company's total sales. QVC has shopping channels in Germany, Japan, Italy, and the UK. The company also has a joint venture in China.
Sales and Marketing
Flagship subsidiary QVC distributes its television programs through satellite and optical fiber to cable and satellite system providers in the US, Germany, Japan, the UK, and neighboring countries. It also transmits programs via digital terrestrial broadcast television to viewers in Italy, the UK, and certain parts of the US and Germany. Additionally, QVC offers a web-based catalog for retailers.
Some of QVC's clients include: Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Dish Network, DirecTV, Verizon, and AT&T.
Liberty Interactive spent $271 million on advertising expenses in 2014, up from $258 million and $247 million in 2013 and 2012, respectively.
While Liberty Interactive's sales are back to their pre-recession levels thanks to an improved economy, the company's profits are roughly one-tenth of what they were in 2009 (when Liberty's net income was $6.46 billion).
Liberty's revenue shrank by nearly 7% to $10.50 billion in 2014, mostly because it lost a revenue source when it spun off its TripAdvisor subsidiary during the year. Outside of this transaction, Liberty's revenue actually grew by 3% thanks to higher sales volumes from QVC and higher sales from its Digital Commerce businesses Backcountry, Bodybuilding, and CommerceHub.
Despite revenue declines in 2014, Liberty's net income rose by 7% to $537 million thanks to a gain from the sale of its TripAdvisor subsidiary, as well as a $75 million gain from the sale of its Provide Commerce floral and gifting business to FTD during the year.
The company's cash from operations also spiked by 60% as its cash earnings grew and as it increased its accounts payable and other current liabilities balances.
Liberty Interactive plans to grow its flagship QVC brand in 2015 by expanding the reach and depth of the brand internationally; showcasing products that offer unique quality and value; creating a differentiated customer experience through engaging content on its televised programming, mobile, and online formats; and leveraging its customer base to cross-sell its products through its multiple sales channels.
Liberty Interactive has been focused on expanding QVC internationally and acquiring additional e-commerce businesses that complement and add to its holdings. In 2014, QVC entered France for the first time, with plans to offer shoppers an immersive digital shopping experience through its e-commerce, TV, mobile and social channels by the summer of 2015. In July 2012, QVC entered into a joint venture in China, taking a 49% interest in CNR Home Shopping, a distributor of live and recorded programming there.
The company has also sold off some of its holdings in recent years to free up resources and concentrate more on QVC. In 2014, it sold Provide Commerce, it's second biggest money maker behind QVC, to floral and gift retailing powerhouse FTD Companies. Also that year, the company spun off TripAdvisor and the BuySeasons group to create a separate publicly-traded company called TripAdvisor Holdings.
Mergers and Acquisitions
In late 2013, to expand its presence in the growing European market, subsidiary Backcountry bought Bergfreunde.de, an e-commerce company that caters to outdoor enthusiasts in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
In late 2012 Liberty Interactive bought a controlling interest in online travel company TripAdvisor from Diller and the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation for $300 million. (Following the transaction, Liberty owned 22% of the equity and 57% of the voting shares of TripAdvisor stock.) TripAdvisor's branded websites include tripadvisor.com in the US, as well as local websites in 29 other countries, including China under the brand daodao.com.
In September 2011 Liberty Media Corp. changed its name to Liberty Interactive Corp. following the split-off of its Liberty Capital and Liberty Starz tracking stocks.