Publisher of Spain's El Pais sees profits tumble

5th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Spanish media giant Prisa, which publishes the leading daily El Pais, reported on Thursday that first-quarter profits plunged 67.7 percent due to extraordinary items and the sale of its television channel Cuatro.

It said profits fell to 11.47 million euros in the January-to-March period from 35.55 million in the same period last year.

Revenues were down 2.5 percent at its 690.9 million euros and Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA) -- a key measure of profitability -- plummeted 35.1 percent to 100.4 million euros.

The company had slumped into the red in 2010 following a period of restructuring to refinance its debt of almost 5.0 billion euros.

It sold Cuatro television in 2010 to rival Telecinco, owned by Italy's Mediaset, and 44 percent of its pay television channel Digital+ to Telecinco and Telefonica, for a total 976 million euros.

Shareholders last November approved merger with US investment group Liberty Acquisitions Holdings, which was to inject some 650 million euros into the firm.

In December, it closed down its all news channel CNN+, a joint venture with Turner Broadcasting, a unit of Time Warner.

And in January, it announced 2,500 job losses worldwide, equal to 18 percent of its total staff spread across Spain, Portugal and Latin America.

"The comparison of first-quarter earnings is affected by the fact that Cuatro ceased to be part of the consolidation in 2011," Prisa said in a statement.

"The comparison is also impacted by extraordinary items recorded under revenue and expenses in the same period both in 2011 and 2010."

Excluding non-recurring items, revenue grew 3.2 percent and EBITDA improved by 2.4 percent.

Prisa ended the quarter with debts of 3.2 billion euros, down from 3.3 billion in December and 4.9 billion a year earlier.

In addition to El Pais, Prisa, founded after Spain returned to democracy following the death of military dictator Francisco Franco in 1975, owns major newspapers and interests in television, radio and digital platforms in Spain, Portugal and Latin America.

El Pais saw its daily distribution rise 6.0 percent during the first quarter to 407,957.

Prisa's advertising revenue continued to fall, down 3.0 percent since the same period last year to 144 million euros.

© 2011 AFP

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