Televisa 1st-qtr. profits rise

$95.2 mil profit big change from 1997's 1st-qtr. perf

MEXICO CITY — Televisa posted a healthy upturn for first quarter 1998 late Wednesday, and almost simultaneously announced a $675 million windfall due to its exit from satellite operator PanAmSat.

The Mexican media conglom saw profits of $95.2 million versus a loss of $26.8 million in first quarter 1997.

The PanAmSat sale, made to majority owner Hughes Electronics Corp., marks the end of a relationship dating back to 1992, when Televisa paid a mere $200 million for a 50% of the satellite operator.

In May 1997, when PanAmSat was bought out by Hughes, Televisa received $650 million and retained a 7.5% interest.

Revenue in the first quarter rose a mere 2.2% in real peso terms, to $371 million, with TV sales (accounting for 59% of the total) up 4.6%.

“They have proven they can turn the ratings story around, but they now need to translate audience share into ad share,” said Whitney Johnson of Salomon, Smith Barney, referring to Televisa’s success in winning back some of the ground lost to rival TV Azteca.

Johnson also praised Televisa’s ongoing cost-cutting program — cash flow (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) was up 18.3% — but added there was much more needing to be done.