Bertelsmann confident after weak first chapter to 2018

Berlin (AFP) –


German media and publishing group Bertelsmann reported Thursday a tentative start to 2018 with falling net profits, but said it was confident of growing over the rest of the year.

The group, which owns publisher Penguin Random House as well as European TV stations RTL and M6 and a slew of magazines, saw its bottom line slump 13 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, to 172 million euros ($203 million).

Operating, or underlying profits also fell slightly, to 482 million euros, although revenues increased 1.3 percent, to 4.0 billion euros.

Bertelsmann said the dollar's weakness against its reporting currency, the euro, and negative one-off effects were to blame for most of the fall in profits.

Otherwise the group had enjoyed a "good start to the current year," chief executive Thomas Rabe said in a statement.

"We are increasingly focusing on organic growth and investing heavily in our businesses," he added, saying Bertelsmann was "confident that we will achieve our full-year targets."

The publisher says it aims to maintain its annual net profit above the billion-euro mark in 2018.

Under Rabe's leadership, Bertelsmann has invested heavily in new business areas like music, online training and niche magazine titles.

In publishing, taking control of Penguin Random House has boosted its earnings from bestsellers like Dan Brown's "Origin" or "Wonder" by RJ Palacio.

This year, Bertelsmann hopes to sell its less profitable customer relations and call-centres branch Arvato, which employs 36,000 people.