Switzerland's leading media company, PubliGroupe, has posted a "substantial deficit" of SFr185 million for 2001.
The Lausanne-based firm blamed the loss on difficult economic conditions, over-rapid and excessive developments in the online sector, and a loss-making investment in a United States advertising agency network.
Turnover was down four per cent from SFr2.71 billion in 2000 to SFr2.61 billion last year.
However, PubliGroupe, which made a profit of SFr140 million in 2000, stressed that performances in some divisions such as PubliDirect, which achieved 16 per cent growth, suggested that all was not gloom and doom.
"The exceptional charges which plunged PubliGroupe into a severe deficit situation in 2001 will not recur in 2002 when a profit will be reported once again, thanks to the strength of the group's traditional divisions," said the company in a statement.
"These have lightened their structures and are ready to take advantage of the markets. However, a return to growth is not expected before the end of the financial year."
Loss was expected
PubliGroupe's loss was not unexpected since the group announced at the end of October last year that it had to revise its forecasts in the light of a downturn in advertising revenue and higher-than-expected restructuring costs.
More than half of the loss for 2001 - SFr105 million - stemmed from its participation in the American Panoramic Group. PubliGroupe announced it would not be making further investments in the US advertising agency group.
The company also announced that it would not be paying out a dividend to shareholders this year as a result of the 2001 figures.
swissinfo with agencies