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% from a year ago, to €14.2 billion ($15.6 billion) in the three months through September, Düsseldorf-based Metro said in a recent statement. 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.
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 that 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 that it expects a "favourable" 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%, to €58.4 billion.
Like-for-like sales at stores open at least a year rose just 0.1% in the fourth quarter, compared with the 0.9% 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.
Recently, the company said that it would cut 500 office jobs in the next 18 months at its Real food-store unit while hiring 3,000 new workers for revamped supermarkets through 2021.
Shares of Metro rose 1% to €27.55 at 9.02 a.m. in Frankfurt. They have risen 12% since 29 March – the day before the company announced plans to split.
The company is scheduled to report full-year results on 14 December.
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