German media giant Bertelsmann says AOL Europe stake sale

German media giant Bertelsmann says AOL Europe stake sale, cost-cutting boost 2001 earnings
(source from yahoo.com)

BERLIN - German media giant Bertelsmann AG on TTuesday reported a net profit for its truncated 2001 fiscal year that it said was buoyed by the sale of shares in AOL Europe, and forecast that earnings for 2002 would exceed the previous full year's level.

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In the six-month period to Dec. 31, the company posted net profit of 931 million (dlrs 818 million), helped by 2.2 billion euros (dlrs 1.93 billion) in proceeds from the sale of AOL Europe shares and other holdings. That selloff is part of Bertelsmann's strategy of focusing on becoming a media content provider.

Bertelsmann reported a net profit of 968 million euros for the previous full fiscal year, which ended last June, and said Tuesday it expects to exceed that amount this year.

The privately held media group didn't provide comparison figures for the six-month earnings.

Bertelsmann is switching to a calendar year in preparation for a possible stock exchange offering, although no date has been set for that. The 2001 earnings were the first reported according to international accounting standards rather than German standards.

"Proceeds from the sales of AOL shares contributed greatly to the high profits, but operational competitiveness was also increased, thanks to cost and portfolio management and a focus on creative core tasks," the company said in a statement.

Revenues were 9.7 billion euros (dlrs 8.52 billion) in the six months and earnings before interest, tax and amortization came to 1.7 billion (dlrs 1.49 billion).

Bertelsmann's divisional earnings X which exclude one-time gains and the company's Internet business and are reported before interest, taxes and amortization and excludes its Internet business X were 212 million (dlrs 186 million).

Bertelsmann's divisions include media company RTL, publisher Random House, magazine group Gruner und Jahr, a scientific publishing arm, and music group BMG, whose top names include Whitney Houston, the Backstreet Boys  and Britney Spears

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