Deutsche Post Says Fourth-Quarter Net Profit Falls

Deutsche Post'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.

Bonn-based Deutsche Post, the parent of express shipper DHL, said it earned 643 million euros ($856 million) in the October-December period -- a 26.6% drop from 876 million euros a year earlier.

That performance was well below the 773 million euros ($1.03 billion) forecast of analysts surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires. Fourth-quarter sales, however, increased by 35.4%, rising to 16.4 billion euros ($21.8 billion) from 12.1 billion euros.

Quarterly earnings below interest and taxes fell by 5.4% to 1.28 billion euros ($1.7 billion) from 1.36 billion euros -- a better showing than the 1.26 billion euros ($1.68 billion) analysts expected.

Last year, Deutsche Post reduced its holding in Postbank to just over 50%, cutting the amount of income it receives from the business. It already has said that full-year net profit fell by 14%, dropping to 1.92 billion euros ($2.55 billion) from 2.24 billion euros.

Deutsche Post said it expects full-year EBIT in 2007 to reach 3.6 billion euros ($4.8 billion), compared with last year's 3.9 billion euros -- a figure that included 400 million euros in one-time gains. It forecast a "slight increase" in sales.

The company said that the integration of British-based logistics group Exel 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.