Conglom's adjusted earnings rose 14.4%

Vivendi Thursday posted a 21% rise in third-quarter operating profit to e1.3 billion euros ($1.66 billion) on the back of more subscriptions for paybox Canal Plus and a strong showing by mobile phone unit SFR.

For the first nine months, Vivendi said its adjusted earnings rose 14.4% to hit $4.6 billion.

Canal Plus surprised industry watchers by overtaking Vivendi’s Universal Music Group in the third quarter to become the second highest profit earner for the media conglom.

Vivendi said that Canal’s core profits, before interest, tax and amortization, jumped 53% to $189 million, outshining analysts’ forecast of $142 million.

The French paybox, which boasts hard-won exclusive rights to Gallic Premier League soccer matches, added 270,00 subs in the first nine months of the year and posted a net profit of $433 million, up 17.4% from the same period last year.

“This performance is due to growth in pay TV operations in France, which mainly benefited from strong portfolio additions and increased revenue per subscriber,” the company said in a statement..

As usual, the games division saw an impressive increase in profits in the third quarter; profit at Vivendi Games more than doubled to hit $31 million, up from $14 million. On the first nine months, the division posted an 118% rise in profits totaling $110 million.

The music division reported a net income of $177 million in the third quarter, up 11.3%. For the first nine months, Universal Music Group notched up $554 million in core profits, an 18.6% gain.

SFR, the company’s top-earner, posted a 2% increase in operating profit, to reach $903 million. On the first nine months of 2006, the mobile phone unit saw its net profit rise by 3.1%, to $2.6 billion.

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