UPDATE 2-Deutsche Post sees 2012 operating profit growth

Thu Mar 8, 2012 2:39am EST

* Sees 2012 EBIT of 2.5-2.6 bln eur vs poll avg 2.59 bln

* Q4 EBIT 599 mln eur vs poll avg 646 mln eur

* Net profit down 64 pct on Postbank-related writedown

* 2011 div 0.70 eur/shr vs yr-earlier 0.65 eur

* Shares indicated 1.8 percent higher

By Maria Sheahan

BERLIN, March 8 (Reuters) - Deutsche Post DHL sees its sales and operating profit edging up this year, and continued growth in the coming years on the back of robust Asian demand for express delivery and supply chain services.

"Of course growth numbers will be smaller this year than in the last two years, but we have no indication of a recession," Chief Executive Frank Appel said.

Earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) will improve to 2.5-2.6 billion euros ($3.3-3.4 billion) from 2.44 billion euros last year, Europe's biggest mail and express delivery company said on Thursday, reporting a 33 percent jump in 2011 profit.

Analysts on average see the company's 2012 EBIT edging up to 2.59 billion euros.

U.S. rival UPS, which is pursuing Netherlands-based TNT Express, in January forecast 9-15 percent growth in profits this year as solid U.S. demand and growing e-commerce shipments offset an uneven global economy.

TNT, which posted weak results and highlighted a bleak economic outlook last month, has rejected UPS's approach but has said talks are ongoing.

Deutsche Post CEO Appel indicated he had no intention of jumping into the fray over TNT, saying the company had no "strategic need" to make acquisitions.

Deutsche Post's fourth-quarter EBIT rose 14.1 percent to 599 million euros, falling short of the 646 million forecast in a Reuters poll, as a slowdown in demand for ocean and air freight in the later part of the year weighed on earnings from its freight forwarding business.

Air freight volumes - an indicator for the health of world trade - have been declining for months and dropped 8 percent in January after a 2011 decline of 0.8 percent.

Freight forwarding is one of Deutsche Post's four main businesses - alongside express delivery, supply chain and mail services - and accounts for more than a quarter of group revenue.

Fourth-quarter net profit dropped by 64 percent to 175 million euros, including writedown of more than 400 million euros on the value of financial instruments related to Deutsche Post's divestment of lender Deutsche Postbank.

Excluding that impact, net profit was up 46 percent at 369 million euros, just below a consensus forecast of 376 million.

Deutsche Post also raised its dividend to 0.70 euros per share from 0.65 euros a year earlier.

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