German media giant Bertelsmann said Tuesday it expects sales to stagnate or decline slightly this year, but to start growing again next year.
"Bertelsmann had a solid start to the new year," chief executive Thomas Rabe told the group's annual earnings news conference.
However, "given the low overall economic growth in the euro region ... and increased investment in reshaping the group, Bertelsmann expects a stable or slightly declining business performance in 2013," Rabe said.
Nevertheless, "after years where sales declined as a result of portfolio adjustments, the top-line is now expected to rise sharply," the chief executive continued.
"Assuming a slow recovery in the European markets from 2014 and including the planned acquisitions, we're targeting sales of around 18 billion euros ($23 billion)," Rabe said.
In 2012, sales grew by 4.5 percent to 16.065 billion euros, earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) were stable at 1.821 billion euros and net profit rose by 4.1 percent to 484 million euros.
Rabe said two pending transactions -- the future combination of Bertelsmann's Random House with Pearson's Penguin, plus the decision to buy out the US investment fund KKR in their jointly-owned music rights management company BMG -- would "have a positive impact already in this current year."
Once the regulatory approvals had been received, the transactions "will result in significant additions to our revenues," Rabe said, saying that including the acquisitions, sales would amount to around 17 billion euros.