Axel Springer bucks trend on profits

Reports fifth consecutive uptick for 2008

BERLIN -- Recession? What recession? There was no sign of a downturn at German media group Axel Springer, which reported its fifth consecutive year of record profit Wednesday, earning 571.1 million euros ($729 million) in 2008.

Annual revenue also jumped north, climbing 5.8% to 2.73 billion euros ($3.5 billion). While Springer did see a slight drop in its German newspaper and magazine operations, it was more than compensated for by growth in the company's international and digital businesses.

"Despite the extremely gloomy economic environment, Axel Springer not only met expectations but significantly surpassed them," Springer CEO Mathias Dopfner said. "With respect to the media sector and beyond, we find ourselves in an exceptional position."

But Dopfner was loath to make a forecast for 2009, saying it would be "irresponsible" in the current volatile economic environment. He did say, though, that Springer will not match last year's record results.