Metro says net profit more than doubled in 2010

BERLIN, March 22, 2011 (AFP) - Metro, the third biggest retail group worldwide, said Tuesday that 2010 sales and earnings had risen on most markets and gave a qualified upbeat outlook for this year as well.

The group said sales had gained a modest 2.6 percent to 67.3 billion euros ($96.2 billion) while net profit more than doubled to 850 million from 383 million in 2009.

Metro executives planned to recommend a dividend of 1.35 euros per share for the 2010 exercise, up from 1.18 euros a year earlier, a statement said.

Loss-making units like the Real supermarket chain and Kaufhof department stores managed to turn around their operations last year and contribute to the group's profit, it added.

Overall earnings before interest and taxes (Ebit) before exceptional items gained 19 percent to 2.42 billion euros, exceeding the group's own forecast of 2.3 billion.

Exceptional items were essentially the result of a broad restructuring programme begun in 2009, the company said.

But Metro remained guarded with respect to the coming months.

Although it forecasts gains of four and 10 percent respectively in sales and Ebit, the outlook was subject to several conditions.

Metro did not rule out the possibility that market conditions could deteriorate and weigh on its 2011 results.

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