Co. ascribed improved profit to fall in debt servicing costs

TF1, France’s leading commercial web, posted a better-than-expected 5.2% rise in net profit for the year to $281.6 million on already published revenues up 0.9% to $3.4 billion.

Operating profit was down 3.3% to $440.9 million in 2005 due to stagnating ad revs and a previously forecast 2.9% increase in programming costs to $1.1 billion.  

Company ascribed improved profit in part to a 23.9% fall in debt servicing costs. By year’s end net debt stood at $545 million, or 43.6% of equity. TF1 also benefited from a tax break on its $16.9 million sale of the video transmission specialist Visiowave. 

Despite the better-than-expected profit, the broadcaster’s share price fell 1.1% Tuesday to 32¢. It has gone up 16% since the start of the year.

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