Bertelsmann rockets into the black

Core business strengthens giant

BERLIN — Buoyed by the continuing positive performance of its core businesses, including pan-European broadcasting group RTL, German media giant Bertelsmann posted a dramatic boost in net profit to E35 million ($54 million) compared with a $107 million loss in the same period last year.

Revenue declined by 3.9% to $6.4 billion, reflecting negative foreign-exchange effects due to the euro’s strength relative to the U.S. dollar and British pound. Sales were also impacted by declines in sales of physical recordings and revenues at Direct Group in North America, the company reported.

Nevertheless, first-quarter operating profit (before interest and tax) climbed 9.6% to $333 million.

Adjusting for portfolio changes and foreign-exchange effects, Bertelsmann said it expected a moderate rise in revenue this year, with operating results on par or slightly above those of 2007. The company’s full-year operating profit reached $2.7 billion on revenue of $28.8 billion.

The group predicts net income will be well above last year’s $620 million due to fewer special items and lower interest expenditure.

In confirming Bertelsmann’s full-year forecast, chief financial officer Thomas Rabe said the company had gotten off to a good start this year “in an environment fraught with economic uncertainty.”

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