Bertelsmann 'confident' at nine-month mark as group revenues grow 3.3%

Bertelsmann 'confident' at nine-month mark as group revenues grow 3.3%

Penguin Random House's parent company Bertelsmann has expressed confidence it will meet its targets for the full year 2019, reporting a boost in group revenues for the first nine months of 3.3%.

The company, which has owned a 75% stake in PRH since 2017, said it increased its group revenues 3.3% year-on-year to €12.8bn from €12.4bn "for the most part organically", owing to gains in the group’s digital and growth businesses. In total its growth businesses (showing organic growth of 8% to €4.6bn) contributed more than 35% to the group’s revenues, up from 33% the previous year. 

Bertelsmann did not break out sales for its individual businesses; however it reported "strategic progress across all divisions" with PRH placing "multiple number-one titles on the New York Times bestseller lists in the first nine months of 2019". In particular it highlighted the success of Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owen, Educated by Tara Westover, The Testaments by Margaret Atwood and Becoming by Michelle Obama.

Thomas Rabe, chairman and c.e.o. of Bertelsmann, said: "The business performance in the year to date gives us confidence that we will achieve our targets for the full year 2019. The expansion of our growth and digital businesses is making noticeable progress. All divisions are making strategic progress. A particular focus has been on increasing collaborations and alliances, such as the Bertelsmann Content Alliance in the content businesses, and the Ad Alliance in ad sales. This is a good basis for a continued positive business performance in the fourth quarter, which is so important for Bertelsmann."

Bernd Hirsch, Bertelsmann’s chief financial officer, added: "We are pleased with the positive business performance as of the end of September 2019. Against this backdrop, we continue to expect growing revenues, continued high operating profitability, and, once again, a Group profit for the full year of over one billion euros."

In addition to its stake in PRH, Bertelsmann includes the broadcaster RTL Group, the magazine publisher Gruner + Jahr, the music company BMG, the service provider Arvato, the Bertelsmann Printing Group, the Bertelsmann Education Group and Bertelsmann Investments, an international network of funds. 

It disclosed in August as part of its interim results that PRH had "a strong first half of 2019, in which the trade publishing group increased its sales, earnings and market share in key markets". Including Verlagsgruppe Random House (the German-based publisher), operating EBITDA rose by a third - 33% - to €227m and revenues increased 11.3% to €1.7bn, up from €1.5bn last year. Its parent said this was "mainly attributable to strong bestsellers, high growth rates in audio formats, and acquisitions". Following acquisitions this year of Little Tiger Group and a stake in the US publisher Sourcebook, PRH this week announced a deal to acquire Eric Carle LLC.