By  on May 2, 2013

BERLIN — The Metro Group significantly narrowed its net loss in the first quarter of 2013, booking a loss of 16 million euros, or $21.1 million, compared to 79 million euros, or $103.6 million, in the year-ago period.

Metro said the improvement was primarily due to tax income of 109 million euros, or $144 million.

Earnings before interest and taxes for the German cash & carry, department store, hypermarket and electronics retail group amounted to 1 million euros, or $1.3 million, compared to an operating loss of 8 million euros, or $10.5 million, a year ago.

The group attributed the gain to improved earnings at its Real supermarket and Media-Saturn electronics divisions, though noted earnings at Metro Cash & Carry and the Real Estate segment declined in the quarter.

Group sales slipped 0.9 percent to 15.5 billion euros, or $20.47 billion. Adjusted for already implemented portfolio changes — the sale of Makro Cash & Carry in the U.K., Real in Eastern Europe and the termination of Media Markt China — sales grew 0.7 percent.

Dollar figures  are converted from euros at average exchange rates for periods in question.

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Despite missing three trading days and in the face of adverse weather conditions, first-quarter sales in Germany rose 1 percent to 6.1 billion euros, or $8.06 billion, boosted by “good” Easter business. At home, the group’s Real, Media-Saturn and Galeria Kaufhof department store division all booked like-for-like sales growth for the period.

For the nine months ending Sept. 30, Metro is forecasting moderate growth in sales, and for operating profits to fall short, partly due to uncertain economic conditions, and also the lack of major sporting events in the period such as the World Cup which tend to generate sales of sportswear, sporting apparel and related items.

EBIT before special items, however, is expected to increase, based on the assumption of higher income from the sale of real estate assets.

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