Antena 3 Profit Falls 30% as Audience Share Slides

Antena 3 Television SA (A3TV), Spain's second-largest commercial TV station, said first-quarter profit fell 30 percent as it lost audience share and companies reduced spending on advertising.

Net income dropped to 31.3 million euros ($50 million) from 44.7 million euros a year earlier, the company said in a regulatory filing today. Sales slumped to 217.4 million euros from 244.9 million euros, with earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization declining to 59.4 million euros from 71.8 million euros.

Increased competition from new stations such as Cuatro and La Sexta is hurting Antena 3. The broadcaster's audience share declined to 16.5 percent in the period from 18.2 percent a year earlier. The ad market fell 4 percent from a year earlier as the economy slowed, the company said.

``It's now clear that March was a very poor month for advertising sales and that the economic slowdown is hitting the market,'' said Alberto Espelosin, a strategist at Zaragoza, Spain-based Ibercaja Gestion.

Antena 3 fell 7 cents, or 0.9 percent, to 7.72 euros in Madrid trading. The stock has lost 26 percent this year.

Spanish media companies are struggling to expand sales as the nation's decade-long economic boom ends. This month, the International Monetary Fund slashed its forecast for Spanish economic growth in 2008 to 1.8 percent, less than half last year's rate.

`No Visibility'

March was ``worse than expected'' and there is ``no visibility for May and beyond,'' Chief Operating Officer Silvio Gonzalez told analysts on a conference call. The performance in April improved, he said.

``The ad market is absolutely unclear,'' Gonzalez, who becomes chief executive officer in July, said. ``We are concerned with the situation.''

Antena 3's rates during the first quarter were flat from a year earlier and the company anticipates being able to boost ad rates in the ``high single digits,'' Gonzalez said.

Antena 3 was predicted to report net income of 32.2 million euros with sales of 222.6 million euros and Ebitda of 58.8 million euros, the median estimates of five analysts Bloomberg News surveyed by phone and e-mail.

To contact the reporter on this story: Paul Tobin in Madrid at ptobin@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Lars Klemming at lklemming@bloomberg.net

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