Improving European advertising markets and cost-cutting efforts helped Bertelsmann AG to a net profit in the first half, prompting the media group to raise its full-year forecast on Tuesday.
Bertelsmann — whose assets include the RTL Group television division, book publisher Random House and magazine publisher Gruner + Jahr — said it earned 170 million euros ($216 million) in the January-June period, compared with a loss of 368 million euros a year earlier.
The privately-held company didn't give second-quarter figures.
Revenue, adjusted to take account of the sale this year of Britain's Channel Five television, rose to 7.36 billion euros from last year's 7.09 billion euros, the company said.
Operating earnings before interest and taxes from continued operations rose to 755 million euros, a new record, from last year's 497 million euros.
"The economy and especially the advertising markets are friendlier," CEO Hartmut Ostrowski said in a statement.
"We now are profiting from having expanded our market-leading positions, while also having lastingly improved our cost structures," he added. "This makes us confident for the rest of the year, and that is why we are raising our profit forecast."
Bertelsmann said it now expects a group profit this year of more than 500 million euros — compared with its previous prediction of between 400 million euros and 500 million euros.
It predicted that both revenue and operating profit will increase, compared with a forecast in March that they will remain stable.
"Nonetheless, visibility for the important fourth quarter still remains low in the advertising markets," Chief Financial Officer Thomas Rabe cautioned.
First-half growth was powered by the advertising-driven RTL and Gruner + Jahr divisions, and by Random House, whose U.S. business and digital activities showed a "particularly positive development," Bertelsmann said.
Among its star performers was the late Swedish author Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy, of which the company sold 6.5 million print copies and e-books in the U.S. and Germany in the first half.
Savings from a cost-cutting program implemented last year "contributed significantly to the positive performance" across the group, Bertelsmann said.
The company said it has cut its debt by more than 800 million euros over the past year. Net financial debt amounted to 2.78 billion euros at the end of June, down slightly from 2.79 billion euros at the end of December.
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