Bertelsmann posts record revenue, but profit halves

Pencils with the logo of German media group Bertelsmann CEO are seen at the annual news conference Berlin
Pencils with the logo of German media group Bertelsmann CEO are seen at the annual news conference Berlin, Germany, March 22, 2016. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

March 30 (Reuters) - Bertelsmann's (BTGGg.F) earnings halved last year despite the German media, services and education conglomerate achieving a record 20 billion euros ($21.68 billion) in revenue, it said on Thursday.

Sales grew 8.3% to 20.2 billion euros, while group profit decreased by more than half annually to 1.1 billion euros.

Broadcaster RTL Group (AUDK.LU), Bertelsmann's biggest business which generates about a third of its profit, reported a fall in core profit, missing expectations, weighed by a weak advertising market and streaming losses.

The company has faced a challenging period, putting pressure on its Chief Executive Officer Thomas Rabe, who had earned plaudits for reshaping the family-owned media empire since his appointment in 2012.

In November, Bertelsmann's Penguin Random House publishing business abandoned a planned $2.2 billion acquisition of Simon & Schuster after U.S. regulators raised anti-trust concerns. That led to a $200 million impairment charge to the U.S. publisher's parent Paramount (PARA.O), the company said.

Last October, RTL scrapped a plan to sell its controlling stake in French TV group M6 (MMTP.PA).

Despite those failures, Bertelsmann has a solid financial position for this year, its CFO Rolf Hellermann said, and expects a "moderate to significant increase in revenues and a stable operating result."

The record 2021 group profit was driven largely by revaluations at some units as well as the sale of its SpotX business.

The company has also kept its 24 billion euro revenue target by 2026, and plans to invest 5-7 billion euros by then.

($1 = 0.9225 euros)

Reporting by Andrey Sychev and Tristan Veyet; editing by Christian Schmollinger, Jason Neely, Matt Scuffham and Christina Fincher

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