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TV Azteca expects flat growth in 2005

Net's debt has increased 31% to nearly $611 million

MEXICO CITY — Without the Olympics to fuel viewer and advertiser interest, TV Azteca on Wednesday warned that the company was unlikely to see growth for the year.

In a conference call to discuss second-quarter results released Tuesday afternoon, Bruno Rangel, director of investor relations, said third-quarter growth would be negative compared to July to September of 2004, when Mexico’s No. 2 net reported sales of $194 million.

“The third quarter will be tough,” Bruno said. He said yearly revenue would be “pretty similar” to 2004, when net brought in $739 million.

Ana Gabriela Ocejo, an analyst at Scotiabank Inverlat, said the projection “implies that next two quarters are going to be bad.”

Ocejo noted that TV Azteca’s net debt had increased 31% to nearly $611 million. However, it is hoping to see higher income from U.S. subsidiary Azteca America.

Rangel said company expected Azteca America to grow above the 10% rate estimated for the U.S. Latino TV market this year. Azteca America revenue was up 8% to $9 million during the second quarter.

The company stopped trading its shares in New York on Monday but in Mexico the stock closed up 3.26% to 6.02 pesos, an increase that baffled analysts.

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