ProSieben Still Mum on Outlook After Q2 Results

BONN, Germany (Reuters) – German commercial broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 (PSMG_p.DE) posted a rise in second-quarter core profit thanks mainly to cost-cuts but said the market environment was still too hazy for a 2009 outlook.

“The market environment remains difficult particularly for us for whom the fourth quarter is crucial,” Chief Executive Thomas Ebeling said in a statement on Thursday.

Ebeling told a trade magazine last month he sees no significant recovery of the advertising market before 2011.

ProSieben said second-quarter earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose 6.6 percent to 201.1 million euros compared with the previous year, excluding the sale of its Scandinavian pay-TV operation CMore.

Second-quarter revenue fell 9 percent to 694 million euros ($998.8 million).

Analysts polled by Reuters had seen core profit at 155 million euros on sales of 700 million euros.

European broadcasters have been hit hard by a slump in advertising spending due to what Britain’s ITV (ITV.L) has called the worst market conditions in 30 years.

The continued decline in TV advertising spending, ProSieben’s free TV segment sales — its core business — led to a drop of 8.6 percent to 609.6 million euros.

Net profit after minorities was 45.5 million euros.

ProSieben, which is majority owned by KKR [KKR.UL] and Permira, has said one of its key priorities was cutting net debt, which rose slightly to 3.4 billion euros in 2008.

It said net debt stood at 3.27 billion euros at the end of the second quarter, down 7.1 percent compared with the previous year but almost unchanged compared with end 2008.

Munich-based ProSieben posted a net loss last year, dragged down by a 180 million euro impairment for SBS Broadcasting, which it bought in 2007 for 3.3 billion euros to create a stronger rival to RTL Group.

RTL Group AUDK.LU, owned by Bertelsmann [BERT.UL], is due to report earnings on Aug 26.

ProSieben is traded at 8.9 times 12-month forward earnings, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine, which weights analysts’ forecasts according to their track record. By comparison, RTL trades at a multiple of around 11.

(Reporting by Nicola Leske)