* Lagardere Active sales down 17 pct in Q3, ad sales down 8
* Lagardere still aims for flat 2012 media operating profit
* Bertelsmann stops short of repeating net profit outlook
* Lagardere shares down 2 pct
By Dominique Vidalon and Harro Ten Wolde
PARIS/FRANKFURT, Nov 13 Headwinds facing
Europe's media sector have buffeted Lagardere,
Bertelsmann and its RTL unit, as the
economic slowdown hits ad spending and makes the outlook more
uncertain for publishers and others in the sector.
French media-to-aerospace group Lagardere posted a slump in
sales at its print and broadcasting division, while publisher
Bertelsmann and broadcaster RTL warned the economic crisis in
Europe could weigh on earnings this year.
Their comments are the latest sign of difficulties facing
the sector, after other media and advertising groups such as
Publicis, WPP and Omnicom cited
economic headwinds as the main cause for declining advertising
ProSiebenSat.1, RTL's biggest competitor in
Germany, last week reported a drop in German ad sales.
Bertelsmann, which also owns publishers Gruner + Jahr and
Random House, previously said it saw a rise in net profit in
2012, but stopped short of repeating that outlook on Tuesday.
It said group profit would be impacted by special items in
the print business and several direct-to-customer businesses, as
well as from its operations in southern Europe.
"Also, the subdued economic outlook and the euro crisis make
it difficult to predict our future performance at this point,"
At France's Lagardere there was a 17 percent sales slump in
Lagardere Active, the group's magazines and radio division, in
the third quarter. The unit accounts for roughly a fifth of
group revenue and is the most sensitive to the advertising
Advertising revenue in the unit, which owns radio stations
in France and Belgium, fell 8 percent, which was slightly worse
than expected, CM-CIC analysts said in a note.
By 0902 GMT, Lagardere shares were off 2 percent at 20.60
euros, underperforming the European media sector, though
the group as a whole kept its annual profit target.
Strong book publishing sales, boosted by the launch of new
titles such as J.K. Rowling's "The Casual Vacancy", helped
offset the downturn at the Active division.
Lagardere, which competes with Pearson Plc and
Bertelsmann in radio and book publishing, said it still expected
its core 2012 media profit to be stable compared with 2011.
Third-quarter group revenue of 1.96 billion euros ($2.5
billion) compared with analysts' expectations of between 1.95
and 2.00 billion, according to a poll of six analysts.
Lagardere had in late August predicted that the second half
of the year would be stronger than the first. [ I D:nL6E8JUG5F]
Bertelsmann said it still saw moderate revenue growth and
high operating earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) for the
Europe's largest media group, which said last month it would
merge its publisher Random House with Pearson's Penguin, said
revenue rose 5.7 percent to 11.4 billion euros over the first
nine months of the year.
RTL said its TV advertising sales slightly increased in
Germany, Europe's biggest economy, but said it still expected
its 2012 operating profit to drop, citing an increasingly tough
($1 = 0.7867 euros)
(Editing by David Holmes)