German media giant Axel Springer is playing down the sinking circulation of Bild Zeitung, the world’s number two daily newspaper and Springer’s chief source of sales and profits.

Bild’s circulation is expected to slip below 4 million in Q4 figures due for release this week, to an all-time nadir of 3.952m. Such a decline has raised eyebrows among German media observers and investors with an interest in the 30% Springer stake currently in the hands of Deutsche Bank.

However, the newspaper firm remains bullish. “When Bild is suffering from a cold, Springer is suffering from pneumonia,” Bild group chief Christian Nienhaus admitted. “But Bild is not suffering from a cold. We have record sales distribution figures, the highest reach of all time and a minimal drop in advertising.”

Springer statistics show relatively constant annual newsstand sales of around €330m ($348m; £217m) in the last two years, which, when combined with ad takings, gives total revenues in the region of €560m. Moreover, profits for last year were up 5%.

“Bild's circulation will keep on moving,” continued Nienhaus. “The 4m threshold is not the relevant category as long as our reach continues to grow.”

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff