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Fri, Nov 21, 2003 - Page 12 News List

Bertelsmann returns to profit in third quarter


German media giant Bertelsmann said Thursday it was returned to a bottom-line profit in the third quarter of the current year, thanks largely to an improved operating performance and windfall gains from divestments.

Bertelsmann said in a statement it booked net profit of 20 million euros (US$23.8 million) in the period from July to September, compared with a net loss of 367 million euros a year earlier.

Underlying profits, as measured by earnings before interest, tax and amortisation (EBITA), also improved, rising to 207 million euros in the three-month period from 116 million euros a year earlier.

Third-quarter sales fell to 3.9 billion euros from 4.2 billion euros.

Looking at the first nine months of the year as a whole, net profit before minorities amounted to 162 million euros in the period from January to September, down from 1.3 billion euros a year earlier.

But that was because the previous year's figure was inflated by one-off gains from the group's sale of its stake in AOL Europe.

And underlying earnings rose to 49.5 percent to 435 million euros, despite a 9.7-percent decline in sales to 11.733 billion euros, Bertelsmann explained.

"Stripping out exchange rate effects and changes in the portfolio, revenues remained nearly even year-on-year," the group insisted.

Bertelsmann, which has interests in a wide range of media, said that nine-month results this year were boosted by 761 million euros in capital gains from the sale of the specialist publisher BertelsmannSpringer and the stake in online bookshop barnesandnoble.com.

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