Germany's Bertelsmann media group improved its operating EBIT income by 14% year-on-year to €284 million ($426.5 million), up from €249 million ($373.9 million), in the third quarter of 2009.

This improved result at the Gütersloh-based group was achieved on revenues that declined by 4.5% to €3.6 billion ($5.4 billion) from €3.8 billion ($5.7 billion). Return on sales amounted to 7.9% compared to an operating margin of 6.6% a year earlier. Group net income for the period from July to September 2009 was €87 million ($130.7 million), up from €15 million ($22.5 million).

In the nine months of 2009 to date, group revenues from continued operations came to €10.8 billion ($16.2 billion), down from €11.5 billion ($17.3 billion) in the same period a year earlier - a 6.6% decline in revenues. Operating EBIT amounted to €759 million ($1.1 billion), down from €934 million ($1.4 billion). Return on Sales for the first three quarters was 7%, compared to 8.1% in that period in 2008.

The group incurred a net loss of €246 million ($369.5 million) in the first nine months of 2009, compared with a profit of €387 million ($581.4 million) a year earlier.

Hartmut Ostrowski, chairman and CEO of Bertelsmann AG, said in a statement: "Our third-quarter business performance was gratifying, particularly in the context of the economic crisis, to which Bertelsmann is responding resolutely."

At the begining of the year, Bertelsmann started a cost and efficiency program, which has thus far exceeded €900 million ($1.4 billion) for 2009, reported Ostrowski.