Dutch-owned VNU, the planet’s largest business information provider and parent of market research giant ACNielsen, on Wednesday blamed the dollar-euro exchange rate for a likely “significant” hit on full year earnings-per-share – possibly 4% to 7% below 2002.

The warning came as the group posted static H1 results: EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) of €201 million ($227.69m; £141.21m).

Chairman Rob van den Bergh attempted to put a gloss on the lacklustre result, claiming that at constant exchange rates VNU’s earnings would equate to an increase of between six and nine per cent. The euro had appreciated on average 19% against the dollar since the same period a year ago, he pointed out.

Exchange rates excluded, VNU’s marketing information and media measurement divisions – primarily the ACNielsen and Nielsen Media Research units plus its phone directories business – had delivered steady organic growth.

But ad revenues in VNU’s business information division (trade journals and exhibitions) had slumped 25% to €155m. Van den Bergh predicted that although the division’s US arm would improve in 2004, conditions in Europe could remain difficult. Advertising income accounts for around eight per cent of VNU’s total sales.

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