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Metro targets profit in 2006

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15:54 CET+01:00
Metro International, a Swedish-based publisher of free daily newspapers around the world, said on Wednesday its loss had narrowed in 2005 and it hoped to swing to profit this year.

Metro's net loss was 7.0 million dollars against 8.7 million in 2004 and its operating loss was cut to 2.5 million dollars from 7.7 million.

Sales, meanwhile, rose 19.0 percent to 359.0 million dollars from 302.4 million the previous year.

Metro launched 17 new editions in 2005, and while these investments resulted in a 19.0 percent increase in the average daily circulation in 2005, they also adversely affected Metro's operating results, said Metro chairman Pelle Törnberg.

"We are however now in a good position to focus on the clear priority of delivering group profitability in 2006," he added.

In the fourth quarter alone, Metro achieved sales growth of 13.0 percent at constant exchange rates, which however fell short of its expectations and "reflected an underperformance in certain operations, which we have already taken measures to correct".

Metro France became profitable for the first time in 2005, and margins increased in Metro's Dutch, Danish and Hong Kong operations.

In Spain, Metro underperformed owing to mismanagement and fierce competition, but the operations there had improved vastly since the start of 2006, it said.

Metro publishes 61 newspaper editions in 19 countries and 18 languages in Europe, North and South America, as well as Asia.

AFP

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