Lagardere Annual Revenue Little Changed as Sales of `Twilight' Novel Slow

Lagardere SCA, France’s biggest publisher, said full-year revenue was little changed as sales of Stephenie Meyer’s vampire-themed ‘Twilight’ novel series slowed.

Revenue at the publisher of Elle magazine rose 0.9 percent to 7.97 billion euros ($10.8 billion) from 7.89 billion euros a year earlier, the company said in a statement. Analysts had predicted revenue of 7.94 billion euros, according to the average of 18 estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Chief Executive Officer Arnaud Lagardere is focusing the publisher on its main media businesses and pushing it into sports marketing. Hearst Corp., the New York-based publisher of Esquire and Cosmopolitan, agreed last month to buy Lagardere’s international magazines business for 651 million euros.

On a like-for-like basis, full-year sales declined 1.8 percent, with book publishing revenue down 6.3 percent. The company is looking for an early foothold in the market for electronic books, which has doubled in size in the U.S. and U.K. since a year ago, Chief Financial Officer Dominique D’Hinnin said on a conference call today.

Lagardere fell 1.5 percent to 32.90 euros at 2:09 p.m. in Paris trading.

Lagardere was dealt a legal blow Jan. 27 when French prosecutors opened a probe into alleged insider trading connected to the 2006 sale of part of its stake in European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co. Lagardere, which was cleared in 2009 in a similar investigation by France’s market regulator, denies wrongdoing and is not making a financial provision for a possible fine.

Canal Plus

The company is planning a public offering of its 20 percent stake in Canal Plus France, the country’s largest pay-TV operator, after failing to reach a deal to sell it last year to Vivendi SA, which owns the rest.

Vivendi CEO Jean-Bernard Levy last month reiterated that the owner of the world’s largest record label sees taking full control of domestic units including Canal Plus as “a strategic objective.”

Lagardere may also eventually explore “strategic moves” for its wholesale press distribution business, which isn’t growing, D’Hinnin said today.

Arnaud Lagardere has promoted a push into sports marketing and athlete representation through a new unit, Lagardere Unlimited. In May, the company announced the acquisition of Best, a U.S. sports agency with clients including basketball player Rafer Alston. It also took a minority stake in the Saddlebrook sports academy in Florida.

The sports division’s revenue declined 22 percent last year, which the company blamed on a dearth of high-profile sporting events in Europe and the loss of contracts with clients including the French Football Federation.

To contact the reporter on this story: Matthew Campbell in Paris at mcampbell39@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Vidya Root at vroot@bloomberg.net.

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