Universal Music Group recorded an 87% year-on-year slide in operating income in 2003 to €70 million ($85.89 million), while its parent company narrowed its losses.

Universal Music Group recorded an 87% year-on-year slide in operating income in 2003 to €70 million ($85.89 million), while its parent company narrowed its losses.

Restructuring costs, legal charges and a reduced number of frontline releases contributed to a 21% decline in full-year revenues to €4.974 billion ($6.1 billion), says UMG in a statement released today (March 17).

In what it describes as a "difficult and evolving environment," UMG estimates that its worldwide market share declined slightly in calendar year 2003, but remains at higher levels than in 2001 and previous years.

The world's largest record company vows to fight back with a "multi-pronged approach," which involves the cost-cutting program it began last year, together with digital-music initiatives and anti-piracy activities. Adjustments to the North American lower-pricing JumpStart policy are in the works, the statement says.

UMG parent Vivendi Universal (VU) revealed a sharp cut in group losses in 2003.

VU achieved a net loss of €1.143 billion ($1.40 billion) in 2003, contrasted with a 2002 loss of €23.3 billion ($25.4 billion) -- the largest-known loss in French corporate history. The company says it expects a stronger performance this year.

"In 2004," says group CEO Jean-Rene Fourtou, "I expect VU to deliver strong growth in its profit, to reach a level of debt below €5 billion ($6.13 billion) at year end and be in a position to distribute dividends to its shareholders in 2005."

Universal Music companies in the United Kingdom and Japan were singled out by VU for strong performances in 2003.

Daniel Bedingfield's "Gotta Get Through This" sold 1.2 million albums in the United Kingdom in 2003, the label's biggest title of the year, and Busted's two albums sold 1 million apiece during the year. In Japan, t.A.T.u.'s "200 Km/H" was the year's top seller for the major at 1.6 million albums.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

Print