Shares in German retail giant Metro Group fell by more than 3% today (5 May) after the company revealed it had swung to a loss during the first quarter of the year.

The retailer booked a net loss of EUR77m (US$102.9m) for the first three months of 2009, against net income of EUR7m a year earlier.

Underlying sales were up 3.6% at EUR15.2bn, although currency fluctuations and calendar effects meant that, on a reported basis, turnover was down 2.5%.

EBIT before special items stood at EUR84m compared to EUR166m in the first quarter of 2008. Metro CEO Dr Eckhard Cordes said the business had “seen a first quarter without surprises”.

“Against the backdrop of the continued and further intensifying economic crisis the only surprise is that there is no surprise,” Dr Cordes added.

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Metro said the first quarter gave the business “little informative value” and said its performance in April had been “strong”.

Sales and earnings in April had “showed a noticeable upward trend”, the company said, with EBIT in April up on the year.

Dr Cordes said the global economic downturn offered opportunities for “ a healthy and financially strong company” like Metro.

“We are determined to seize these opportunities,” Dr Cordes said.

Shares in Metro were down 3.47% on the Frankfurt stock exchange to EUR31.97 at 16:01 CET.