Sky, World Cup give kick to earnings

MEXICO CITY — Mexican media conglom Televisa posted its best third-quarter profit performance in nearly a decade, driven by subscriptions at satcaster Sky and boosted by revenue from the summer’s World Cup soccer tournament.

Third-quarter profits were up 43.6% to $226 million year on year. Consolidated revenues were up 9.1% to nearly $839 million.

Revenue was down 3% quarter on quarter following a record second quarter fueled by political advertising ahead of July elections and the build-up to the World Cup.

The four final games fell in July, giving Televisa a boost this quarter. Analysts expect more difficult numbers in the coming year without such major events.

Sales at the terrestrial broadcaster were up 4.5% to $454 million.

Top-rated comic telenovelas “La fea mas bella,” a remake of Colombian hit “Yo soy Betty la fea,” and “Amor Mio” helped net clinch nearly 73% of broadcast auds Monday to Friday during the quarter.

Sky, the conglom’s second biggest revenue stream, reported that sales were up 13.8% to $171 million. Sky had 1.41 million subscribers at the end of the quarter, a 16% increase on last year.

Cable revenue grew 33% to $45.2 million; it reported 475,500 subs, up 17% year on year.

The company said it expected to invest between $250 million and $500 million in the next three years to roll out  triple-play services of TV, Internet and phone access.

New revenue streams from Televisa’s slots and bookie biz, as well as triple-play services, will help compensate for the lack of major events next year, but probably won’t have a significant impact in 2007, said Philip Remek, senior equity analyst at Guzman.

“What is more important for Televisa will be the economic policy of the (president-elect Felipe) Calderon government,” Remek said. “If the new government is better able to stimulate overall economic growth as well as the opening up of competition in more markets, which stimulates advertising, that will be a bigger driver for Televisa.”

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