Metro Sales Meet Estimates as Web, Delivery Businesses Grow

  • German retailer sees ‘favorable’ Christmas market conditions
  • Electronics chain sales fell while food stores expanded

German retailer Metro AG reported fourth-quarter sales that met analysts’ estimates as its wholesale food business turned in a strong performance ahead of a plan to split up the company next year.

Revenue declined 0.5 percent from a year ago to 14.2 billion euros ($15.6 billion) in the three months through September, Dusseldorf-based Metro said in a statement Wednesday. That matched the average estimate of analysts compiled by Bloomberg. Metro also reaffirmed its guidance that earnings before income, taxes and special items will exceed last year’s 1.51 billion euros.

Chief Executive Officer Olaf Koch is preparing to split the purveyor of everything from groceries to computer gadgets into two companies next year. The results could help solidify Koch’s plan to speed operations, which the company has said it can accomplish without raising additional capital. Metro plans to split its Cash & Carry food wholesale stores and Real hypermarkets from the Media Markt and Saturn electronics chains.

Metro said it expects a "favorable" Christmas business and pointed to a significant increase in its online and home-delivery businesses in the quarter. Sales for the fiscal year fell 1.4 percent to 58.4 billion euros.

So-called like-for-like sales at stores open at least a year rose just 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter, compared with the 0.9 percent increase forecast by Deutsche Bank AG. Total revenue at the Media-Saturn division was flat in the fourth quarter, hurt by declining sales at its Redcoon online store.

On Tuesday, the company said it would cut 500 office jobs in the next 18 months at its Real food-stores unit while hiring 3,000 new workers for revamped supermarkets through 2021.

Shares of Metro rose 1 percent to 27.55 euros at 9:02 a.m. in Frankfurt. They have risen 12 percent since March 29, the day before the company announced plans to split.

The company is scheduled to report full-year results Dec. 14.

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