METRO Group maintains its growth course (DE)

-Sales in the fiscal year 2005 up 4.2 percent to €55.7 billion
-International business growing strongly by 10.5 percent to €29.8 billion
-Business in Eastern Europe grew by more than 20 percent regarding sales and by over 30 percent in terms of EBIT
-Share of foreign business in group sales rose to 53 percent and in EBIT to 70 percent
-Earnings per share from continued operations before write-downs on deferred tax assets up 6.5 percent
-METRO Group expects a growth in sales of 4 to 6 percent and a rise in earnings per share between 5 and 8 percent for 2006

Overall, the METRO Group looks back to a successful fiscal year 2005. Group sales - excluding Praktiker - increased 4.2 percent to €55.7 billion. Abroad, the company distinctly raised its sales, i.e. by 10.5 percent to €29.8 billion. At home, in contrast, sales dropped 2.2 percent to €25.9 billion as a consequence of a sustained consumer restraint. The share of foreign business in group sales rose to a new record high of 53.4 percent.

"Overall, the METRO Group looks back to a successful fiscal year 2005. The internationalization of our business activities pursued during the past few years is bearing fruit," said Dr. Hans-Joachim Körber, Chairman of the Management Board and CEO of the METRO Group, at the presentation of the financial statements. "More than half of group sales in 2005 and over two thirds of our profit origina te from our activities abroad. In Germany, too, we are well-positioned in a highly competitive market. Only the development of Real in Germany is disappointing. The METRO Group benefits from its strong presence in the promising markets of Eastern Europe and Asia with double-digit growth rates. However, we were also successful in the mature markets of Western Europe. We will continue to drive our internationalization with the market entries into Bosnia, Sweden and Pakistan."

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) climbed 3.3 percent to €2.94 billion. At €1.7 billion, earnings before interest and taxes rose around 0.8 percent over the previous years level. In this context, a significant rise in earnings abroad of 17.3 percent to €1.2 billion contrasted with a distinct slump in earnings at home of 28.4 percent to €535 million, which mainly resulted from the negative business trend in food retail. With the exception of Real all sales divisions were able to improve their EBIT.

Earnings per share from continued operations, i.e. excluding Praktiker, amounted to 1.54. Adjusted by write-downs on deferred tax assets for loss-carry forwards of Real Germany, the EPS stood at 2.47. This corresponds to a 6.5 percent rise over the previous year value of 2.32. The target for the earnings per share, which was revised during the year 2005, was thus achieved.

The Management Board and Supervisory Board will recommend to the Annual General Meeting to pay a unchanged dividend of 1.02 per share of common stock and of 1.122 per share of preferred stock.

The METRO Group again attained a positive economic value added (EVA) in fiscal 2005. It came up to €305 million following €318 million in 2004. With the exception of Real, each sales division posted a higher EVA in 2005 than in the previous year. Despite the development at Real, the return on capital employed reached the prior-year level of 8 percent.

Investments of the METRO Group totaled €2.1 billion in the 2005 fiscal year, which is nearly €400 million higher than in 2004. These funds were primarily used to driving the international expansion of Metro Cash & Carry as well as Media Markt and Saturn.

Due to the expansion activities, total assets rose by €415 million to €28.8 billion in the fiscal year 2005. The equity ratio of the METRO Group improved significantly from 17.1 percent to 18.5 percent.

As a result of the METRO Groups dynamic expansion also the number of employees climbed further. On an annual average, the METRO Group had a headcount of nearly 247,000 employees. Transl

Related News