The RTL Group has reported a strong performance in a challenging year. However, CEO Gerhard Zeiler has warned of a “substantial slowdown”.
“We are experiencing a substantial slowdown in advertising bookings. We will respond to this by focusing on our core business, and by reviewing all costs and structures. This will result in a significantly lower cost base in all of our operations.”
Commenting on the 2008 results, Zeiler said: “In spite of increasingly difficult advertising markets in Europe, in 2008 RTL Group increased its revenue and operating result for the seventh year running. The company has a broad-based, secure setup, and is active in many countries and business areas. In particular, strong performances at Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland and FremantleMedia contributed to the increase in profits. Given the current state of the advertising markets, and the very short-term bookings cycle, it is impossible to give reliable full-year guidance. But it has to be expected that the profitability level will be down compared to 2008.”
Based on the 2008 results, the RTL Group will pay a total dividend of €3.50 per share. The company reported EBITA of €916 million, up 2% despite a tougher economic climate. The reported Group revenue was up 1.2% to €5,774 million; underlying revenue, at constant exchange rates, was up 2.6%.
Reported EBITA margin improved to 15.9%. Net profit attributable to RTL Group shareholders was meanwhile down to €194 million (compared with €563 million in 2007), mainly due to an impairment of goodwill of the UK TV activities amounting to €337 million.
Net cash from operating activities of €1,065 million resulted in an operating cash conversion of 114%.