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Sogecable posts profit

Media giant's arms push healthy revs

MADRID — Spanish pay TV operator Sogecable posted a second-quarter profit of 9.9 million euros ($11.1 million), aided by a boffo B.O. haul from bigscreen comic book adaptation “Mortadelo and Filemon: the Big Adventure” and a one-time gain from legal compensation for the actions of the Spanish state.

Co-produced by Sogecable film division Sogecine and distribbed by sister-company Sogepaq, Javier Fesser’s “Mortadelo” helped push revenues up 70% at Sogecable’s film production and distrib ops to $45.8 million for the first half 2003.

Coming on the heels of Sogecine/Sogepaq’s 2001 smash hit, Alejandro Amenabar’s “The Others,” the results left analysts wondering whether they should factor Sogecable pic activities into their longterm financial forecasts.

Sogecable was awarded $29.6 million in damages after Spain’s ruling Partido Popular was found guilty of having impeded the growth of Sogecable satcaster Canal Satelite Digital, by, for example, attempting to ban its set-top decoder.

Sogecable’s total first-half losses stood at $8.2 million off sales of $582.4 million, better results than analysts had expected.

Analysts were upbeat about long-term trends at the company. “The key feature of Sogecable results is the relationship between its subscriber base, sub revenues and margins,” said Javier Marin, an analyst at Morgan Stanley.

Subs dropped at Sogecable from 1.86 million in March to 1.78 million. But sub revenues held at $216.5 million, despite a lack of marketing at Sogecable as it negotiated the fine points of its merger with Via Digital.

“When you have sub revs in line with last year, despite little marketing and a fall in the subscriber base, and programming costs are not going up significantly, that’s good news,” Marin added.

Sogecable shares rose 1% in same-day trading after the announcement of its results.

The star performer on Spain’s IBEX 35 stock exchange in 2003, Sogecable has seen its stock escalate from a year low of $6.6 to $22.3 July 25.

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