Vivendi Universal may have bid au revoir to its entertainment assets this month, but the division nevertheless helped boost the Gallic firm’s first quarter 2004 bottom line.
Viv U (which says it’s keeping the “Universal” portion of its corporate name despite having ceded the studio to NBC) reported Thursday that operating income at VUE was up 15% over the same period in 2003, thanks to strong performances from the Universal Television Group and improvements at Universal Parks and Resorts. On a constant currency basis, the division’s bottom line gained 27%.
Universal Pictures Group, however, saw operating income decline 13% (and up only 2% on a constant currency basis) compared to last year.
Earlier this month, VUE reported revenues of $1.8 billion for the quarter, a 21% year-on-year gain on a constant currency basis.
Overall, Vivendi Universal slashed its first quarter net loss to $7.3 million (E6 million), from a $387.7 million loss in the same period last year, on revenues of $7.2 billion.
In a sign of improved financial health, operating profit was up a better-than-expected 10% to $1.13 billion, including $299 million from the recently sold VUE, compared with $258.8 million in the first quarter of 2003.
Gallic pay TV operator Canal Plus Group posted operating profit of $89.9 million compared with $192 million a year earlier, after the sale of its money-losing Italian pay TV unit Telepiu in April 2003.
Universal Music narrowed its operating loss to $19.4 million from $34 million.
Vivendi’s telecom businesses SFR and Maroc Telecom generated an operating profit of $866.6 million, compared with $732.9 million in the same period last year.
However, losses at Vivendi’s games unit widened to $54.7 million from a loss of $29.1 million.
Viv U’s net debt stood at $13.3 billion at the end of the first quarter but has fallen to $8.51 billion since the NBC-VUE merger.