Deutsche Post says 4Q net profit declined

Deutsche Post AG’s fourth-quarter net profit fell by around a quarter, the German mail and logistics company said Tuesday, hurt by a cut in its stake in the country’s biggest retail bank, Deutsche Postbank AG,

Bonn-based Deutsche Post, the parent of express shipper DHL, said it earned EUR643 million (USD856 million) in the October-December period a 26.6 percent drop from EUR876 million a year earlier.

That performance was well below the EUR 773 million (USD1.03 billion) forecast of analysts surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires. Fourth-quarter sales, however, increased by 35.4 percent, rising to EUR16.4 billion (USD21.8 billion) from EUR12.1 billion.

Quarterly earnings below interest and taxes fell by 5.4 percent to EUR1.28 billion (USD1.7 billion) from EUR1.36 billion a better showing than the EUR1.26 billion (USD1.68 billion) analysts expected.

Last year, Deutsche Post reduced its holding in Postbank to just over 50 percent, cutting the amount of income it receives from the business. It already has said that full-year net profit fell by 14 percent, dropping to EUR1.92 billion (USD2.55 billion) from EUR2.24 billion.

Deutsche Post said it expects full-year EBIT in 2007 to reach EUR3.6 billion (USD4.8 billion), compared with last year’s EUR3.9 billion a figure that included EUR400 million in one-time gains. It forecast a “slight increase” in sales.

The company said that the integration of British-based logistics group Exel PLC and other acquisitions had gone well.

“Our good operating performance in 2006 _ particularly in the fourth quarter _ shows that our strategy of internationalization is bearing fruit,” CEO Klaus Zumwinkel said in a statement.

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