VNU earnings fall 23%

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Haarlem, The Netherlands--VNU reported Wednesday that its net earnings fell 23% to $160 million in 2003, from $209 million in 2002.

The company said its earnings were hurt by the weakness of the dollar, reorganization charges and a loss on the company’s divestiture of Claritas Europe.

VNU said cash earnings dipped 16% to $470 million in 2003, from $557 million in 2002. Revenue dropped 9% to $4.78 billion from $5.26 billion, although in constant currencies revenue grew 2%.

VNU’s trade publications, which include VNU Business Media titles in the U.S., continued to be a drag on earnings, the company said.

Trade magazines “continued to face soft advertising markets worldwide,” Rob van den Bergh, VNU chairman-CEO, said in a statement. “Both in the U.S. and Europe, advertising revenues declined for [VNU] Business Information’s trade magazines, although not as sharply as in previous years.”

Van den Bergh also said that a recovery appeared to be in the offing and that the U.S. had “reached the bottom of the cycle.”

--Sean Callahan

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