Profits on the rise at Berlusconi’s Mediaset

Net profits up 29% at the Italian broadcast group

MILAN — Mediaset, the broadcast group controlled by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, released a solid set of numbers for 2010 on Tuesday.

Net earnings for the year were €4.3 billion ($6.1 billion) up 10.5% on 2009. Net profits rose 29% to $501 million, while earnings before interest and tax were up 27% to $1.16 billion compared to the previous year.

Earnings for the Mediaset Premium paybox rose 25% to $995 million. But advertising revenues grew less strongly — rising 7% to $4.07 billion for the year.

Deutsche Bank analyst Alessandro Bai-Badino said the detailed data on advertising revenue, expected to be released on Wednesday, would be important. “This will show how well things are improving,” he said.

In a statement, Mediaset warned that the slowdown that characterized the last few months of 2010 had continued into 2011. It predicted, however, that the advertising market would rally in the second half of the year.