Universal Finds It Tough

It’s expanding with the purchase of Bertelsmann’s publishing catalog and what’s left of the U.K.’s Sanctuary group but the world’s biggest music company is feeling the pinch when it comes to day-to-day trading.

Universal is blaming "a difficult recorded music market," the same long-term condition that’s affected the health of EMI, Warner and Sony-BMG, for first-half operating profits being down 25.4 percent to euro 220 million (US$301.3 million).

The company press statement drew some consolation from the news that Q2 revenues had slipped by .8 percent to euro 1.1 billion (US$1.5 billion) by saying it had nonetheless "significantly outperformed its competitors."

French investors weren’t impressed by Vivendi, Universal’s French parent company, putting forward an argument that suggests it’s not so bad to be sick when others are even sicker, and its stock fell 1.6 percent to euro 30.05.

The drop alone wasn’t so bad but it came August 30, a day when the rest of the Paris index rose 1.3 percent. Vivendi was the day’s worst performer.