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Prisa sees ad uptick

Media group posts strong first-half figures

MADRID — Spain’s largest media group, Prisa, underscored the gathering signs of recovery in Spain’s ad market, at least for its strongest brands, with a 5% hike in ad revenues, from January to June 2003.

Prisa is a 16% managing shareholder of Sogecable, Spain’s leading pay TV operator.

Prisa reported a 27% rise in first half of the year in before-tax profits to 53.1 million euros ($59.4 million). Revenues climbed 8% to $726.9 million. Net profits fell 49% to $37.7 million as the company could no longer draw down tax credits amounting to $26.7 million from first half 2002.

Much of the ad rev increase came from the Prisa-owned El Pais, Spain’s most-read quality newspaper, which saw operating profits increase 27% to $51.6 million.

The company’s bane remains tumbling currencies in Latin America; conversion rates reduced revenues at its publishing house Santillana by some $39 million, according to company estimates.

Prisa’s first-half results highlight the key growth potential of its radio interests in Latin America and local TV assets in Spain. Centered around investments in Colombia’s Radio Caracolo, Mexico’s Radiopolis (a joint radio net venture with Televisa) and radio ops in Chile, Costa Rica, the U.S. and Panama. Prisa’s Intl. Media unit saw revs rise 63.5% to $26.0 million.

Ad sales increased 91% at the company’s Localia local TV nets in Spain.

Prisa shares rose 2% in same-day trading after the announcement of the first-half results. Company stock has rallied 80% this year to $10.1 on July 25.

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