German media and publishing giant Bertelsmann said it expected sales and underlying profits to increase this year after a strong performance in the first six months. In the period from January to June, Bertelsmann\'s bottom-line net profit grew by 10.9 percent to 306 million euros ($405 million). It did not provide any earnings figures for the second quarter alone, but in the first three months, net profit had soared by as much as 61 percent, driven by one-off factors. At an underlying level, Bertelsmann said its operating profit, as measured by earnings before interest and tax (Ebit), reached a new record, rising by 5.2 percent to 768 milion euros in the January-June period. First-half sales, on the other hand, slipped by 1.9 percent to 7.43 billion euros, which Bertelsmann attributed to \"a difficult market environment and several structurally declining businesses.\" But chief executive Thomas Rabe nevertheless insisted that \"the first six months of this year went well for Bertelsmann. Our operating profit reached record levels, and our return on sales was in the double digits. \"We have made good progress on our four strategic priorities -- strengthening the core, digital transformation, building growth platforms, and expanding our activities in growth regions,\" Rabe said. And looking ahead, chief financial officer Judith Hartmann said the group\'s strategic orientation \"will enable Bertelsmann\'s revenues and operating result to grow at the completion of the year.\"