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BERLIN — Difficult market conditions, adverse currency effects and portfolio changes buffeted sales and EBIT before special items at The Metro Group in the first quarter but thanks to a lower tax rate, net profits almost quadrupled in the three-month period ending Dec. 31.

In final figures released Tuesday net profit at the German cash & carry, department store, hypermarket and electronics retail group surged to 514 million euros, or $699.6 million in the quarter, compared to 129 million euros,  or $167.3 million, for the period a year previously.

Dollar figures are converted from the euro at an average exchange rate for the period to which they refer.

 

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EBIT before special items fell 15.7 percent to 1.07 billion euros, or $1.46 billion, which Metro attributed to the lack of income from real estate sales and the disposal of its supermarket business in Eastern Europe. Sales for the group slipped 3.3 percent to 18.72 billion euros, or $25.48 billion. Adjusted for currency effects, sales were down 1.4 percent.

The group’s core Metro Cash & Carry saw EBIT before special items drop 17.4 percent to 540 million euros, or $735 million, while sales fell 1.1 percent to 8.51 billion euros, or $11.58 billion. Like-for-like sales in local currency rose 0.9 percent in the quarter.

EBIT before special items at The Galeria Kaufhof department store division also dropped 15.9 percent to 159 million, or $216.4 million, but sales (as well as like-for-like sales in local currency) gained 0.6 percent to reach 1.0 billion euros, or $1.36 billion sales.

For the year ahead, Metro is forecasting a slight improvement in overall sales in local currency, but flat like-for-like sales. The group said “earnings developments will also be affected by continued below-average economic growth.” Moreover, announced changes in the group’s real estate activities are expected to impact earnings.