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Deutsche Boerse's net profit drops 35 percent in fourth quarter

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FILE PHOTO: The plaque of the Deutsche Boerse AG is pictured at the entrance of the Frankfurt stock exchange February 1, 2012. REUTERS/Alex Domanski
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FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German stock exchange operator Deutsche Boerse reported a much worse-than-expected 35 percent fall in net profit in the fourth quarter and said it had become more cautious about this year's outlook.

Deutsche Boerse pointed to higher operating costs in the fourth quarter. It said it still expected adjusted net profit growth of around 10 percent in 2019 and reaffirmed its medium-term targets of growth between 10 and 15 percent, but said it also faced rising risks.

"Given the economic environment, we are taking a slightly more subdued stand on our expectations for the current business year. Cyclical risks are increasing and political risks are difficult to predict," Chief Executive Theodor Weimer said in a statement, without elaborating.

Weimer, who took over as CEO a year ago, has been seeking to open a new chapter after Deutsche Boerse became entangled in an insider trading scandal in 2017 and a planned merger with its London counterpart was scrapped.

Fourth quarter net profit attributable to shareholders of 140 million euros (123 million pounds) was well below the 203 million euros expected in a Reuters poll, and down from 214 million euros a year ago.

The company said that operating costs in the quarter of 459 million euros clearly exceeded 323 million euros a year earlier, but that one-off measures such as litigation and efficiency measures were the main reason.

For the full year, net profit dropped 6 percent to 824 million euros.

It proposed a 10 percent increase in its 2018 dividend to 2.70 euros per share, from 2.45 euros.

(Reporting by Tom Sims; Editing by Christoph Steitz and Susan Fenton)