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Business

Germany's Largest Retailer Suffers Christmas Hangover

Sluggish Christmas sales have taken their toll on German retailers. The latest victim is the country's biggest retail chain, Metro, which on Thursday reported annual sales for 2002 that fell short of its own performance target. Metro's announcement that sales totaled only 51.5 billion euros last year sent the company's stock tumbling by 5 percent. The sluggish retail sector is pounding Metro's results. Metro had forecast 5-percent growth last year, but it didn't achieve its goal. However, Thursday's results still put Metro way ahead of most of the competition, where tumbling sales and ruthless price wars are taking their toll. Metro is the worlds fifth-largest retailer. The company owns a chain of consumer electronics markets, supermarkets and huge, do-it yourself warehouses. Almost half of Metro's sales are now made abroad.