ProSieben Outlook Remains Vague

BONN (Reuters) – German commercial broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG (PSMG_p.DE) remained vague on targets for the full year after it reported a third-quarter core profit that missed expectations.

ProSieben said on Thursday it saw increasing signs of economic stabilisation but would stay conservative in its planning because the market environment remained difficult.

Chief Executive Thomas Ebeling said last week he was seeing a recovery in the German TV advertising market in the fourth quarter but that it was uncertain how the German ad market would develop in 2010.

A range from a 5 percent decline to 2 percent growth was possible, he had said.

ProSieben, hit hard like rivals by a steep decline in advertising revenues, aims to compensate with costs cuts of 200 million euros ($294.9 million) this year.

It said operating costs dropped 9.6 percent to 469.2 million euros in the third quarter and 11.4 percent in the first nine months excluding the sale of its Scandinavian pay-TV operation CMore.

Core profit in the third quarter fell 24.1 percent to 62.4 million euros on a sales decline of 7.9 percent to 559.4 million euros due mainly to the sale of CMore.

Analysts polled by Reuters had on average expected a fall in core profit of 15.1 percent to 79 million euros on revenues of 565 million euros.

ProSieben, which is majority owned by KKR and Permira, has said one of its key priorities was cutting net debt, which stood at 3.53 billion euros at the end of September.

That was a decline of 7.4 percent compared with a year earlier but a rise of 3.1 percent compared with the previous quarter due to lower free cash flow.

Munich-based ProSieben bought SBS Broadcasting in 2007 for 3.3 billion euros to create a stronger rival to Bertelsmann owned RTL Group, which reports earnings on Nov 10. (Reporting by Nicola Leske, Editing by Michael Shields)