March 8, 2018 / 6:50 AM / 9 months ago

Axel Springer guides for faster growth in core profit

CEO of German publisher Axel Springer SE Mathias Doepfner holds a speech during the annual news conference in Berlin, Germany, March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

BERLIN/FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German publisher Axel Springer said it expected profit growth to accelerate in 2018 after its classifieds operations helped it post an 8.5 percent gain in core profit last year.

Springer, best known as publisher of print titles Bild and Welt, said it was seeing a payoff from its shift into online publishing. Digital operations now account for four-fifths of its profit.

“Axel Springer is documenting a new phase of development - as a digital growth enterprise,” Chief Executive Officer Mathias Doepfner said in a statement.

Group revenue for 2017 rose 8.3 percent to 3.56 billion euros (3.18 billion pounds) versus the 3.526 billion expected by analysts in a Reuters poll.

Adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose to 646 million euros, just short of the 652 million expected by analysts.

The company expects low double digit percentage growth in adjusted EBITDA in 2018, it said, with revenue increasing by a low- to mid-single-digit percentage.

Digital classifieds - driven by jobs site Stepstone and real estate sites - are expected to achieve double-digit growth in revenue and adjusted EBITDA this year.

Springer will propose an annual dividend of 2 euros, up from 1.90 euros.

Reporting by Douglas Busvine; editing by Edward Taylor and Jason Neely

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