RTL Group reports lower Q1 revenues

By Robert Briel | May 7, 2009 | 07:09 UK

RTL Group has reported lower Q1 revenues due to a tough economic environment, with TV ad markets across Europe declining by double-digit rates.

Against this background, the group’s revenues fell by 11.1% to €1,188 million (Q1/2008: EUR 1,336 million).

Reported EBITA declined to €87 million (Q1/2008: €188 million) due to falls across all profit centres, restructuring costs (€9 million) and higher start up losses (€18 million) mainly following the first-time consolidation of Alpha Media Group in Greece.

This translated into a reported EBITA margin of 7.3% (Q1/2008: 14.1%). The net cash position as of March 31, 2009 amounted to €741 million.

In the meantime, a dividend payout amounting to €541 million was made on April 24, 2009.

The RTL Group said that it is reviewing all costs and structures in response to the substantial slowdown in advertising bookings.

This process will result in a significantly lower cost base across the Group’s core businesses, which will be fully implemented by the year 2011. Until then, the Group expects a steady increase in cost savings.

Given the current state of the advertising markets and the very short-term bookings cycle, the RTL Group said that it is impossible to give reliable full-year guidance, but that the profitability level will be considerably down compared to 2008.

Despite the lower revenues, the RTL Group’s main flagship channels, RTL Television in Germany, M6 in France and RTL 4 in The Netherlands, claimed a powerful start into 2009, increasing their audience shares compared to the first quarter of 2008.

Following the first-time full consolidation of Alpha Media Group in Greece, the local management initiated a comprehensive business review and started to re-position Alpha TV as a channel targeting a younger audience.