Metro sees flat earnings this year as economy woes weigh

GERMANY’S Metro, the world’s fourth largest retailer, yesterday said it did not expect earnings to grow in 2012 due to a stuttering global economy and costs from expanding its cash and carry and consumer electricals stores businesses.

The group, which also runs hypermarkets and department stores, said sales should grow in the coming year, but earnings before interest, tax and special items would only match the €2.37bn (£1.92bn) it reported for 2011 yesterday.

The firm’s results yesterday were in line with expectations, as was the adjusted Ebit for the fourth quarter of €1.31bn.

Net income after minorities dropped to €404m in the final quarter, compared with expectations in a Reuters poll for €633m, as the group took a hit from currency effects and costs from its Shape 2012 restructuring programme.

Over the weekend, chief executive Olaf Koch said the company was in no rush to resume efforts to divest its Kaufhof chain of department stores after suspending sales talks in January.

“We still want to divest Kaufhof because we could create more value in the global expansion of our wholesale business with the capital that is tied up there [in Kaufhof]. But as we said in January, we are not holding any sales talks for now,” he told Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

Metro suspended the sale of Kaufhof, valued at between €2bn and €3bn, at the start of the year, saying potential buyers were struggling to raise funds.