UPDATE 1-Axel Springer says more than half of sales from digital business

Tue May 6, 2014 2:22am EDT

* Digital was 52.8 pct of Q1 revenues

* Q1 EBITDA up 13.6 pct fuelled by classified ads

* Still sees 2014 EBITDA up by low-double digit pct

* Shares indicated 1 pct higher (Rewrites, adds detail, background)

FRANKFURT, May 6 (Reuters) - German publisher Axel Springer said on Tuesday it generated more than half of its first-quarter revenues from digital activities for the first time, offsetting an ongoing drop in income at its print business.

With consumers increasingly using smartphones and tablet computers to consume news and information, publishers such as Axel Springer are having to push into digital media, away from traditional printing business, in order to protect profits.

Last month Axel Springer completed the sale of a cluster of newspapers and magazines to German privately-held peer Funke Mediengruppe for 920 million euros ($1.28 billion). It has also bought German news television network N24.

As a result, its digital business accounted for 52.8 percent of first-quarter revenues from continued operations, the publisher of Germany's top-selling daily "Bild" said.

"The fact that we generated more than half our revenues and earnings in our digital activities for the first time ever is a symbolic milestone," said Chief Executive Mathias Doepfner.

First-quarter earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose 13.6 percent to 118.4 million euros, mainly fuelled by its classified ad activities.

Axel Springer said it still expects revenue to rise in a mid-single digit percentage range in 2014 this year. EBITDA is expected to increase by a low-double digit percentage. ($1 = 0.7205 Euros) (Reporting by Harro ten Wolde; Editing by Victoria Bryan and Sophie Walker)

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