Mediaset’s Quarterly Loss Narrows as Ad Market Stabilizes

Mediaset SpA, the broadcaster owned by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, reported a narrower third-quarter loss as the country’s advertising market stabilized and the company reduced costs.

The third-quarter net loss was 57.4 million euros ($77.1 million) compared with a loss of 88.6 million euros a year earlier, the company said today in a statement. That compares with the average estimate of seven analysts compiled by Bloomberg for a net loss of 61.2 million euros on sales of 640 million euros. Sales fell to 653.1 million euros from 656.6 million euros a year earlier.

The Milan-based company said it expects a full-year “consolidated result” that’s an improvement from the first nine months. Advertising sales in the January-October period confirms the “stabilization” trend that emerged in the second half, Mediaset Chief Financial Officer Marco Giordani said on a conference call with analysts.

Italian advertising sales in the first nine months fell to 1.43 billion euros, down from 1.66 billion euros in the year-ago period.

Mediaset, which sold 375 million euros of five-year bonds last month, has been hurt by the weak Italian television advertising market, which fell 13.1 percent to 2.48 billion euros in the first nine months, according to a report today by market research firm Nielsen.

Digital Plus

Giordani said Mediaset’s Spanish subsidiary is reviewing options for its 22 percent stake in Digital Plus, the pay-TV unit of media company Promotora de Informaciones SA, or Prisa. In addition, Mediaset “for now” isn’t discussing an eventual purchase of Telecom Italia SpA’s towers, he said.

Still, the executive said Mediaset unit EI Towers SpA will join the consolidation of Italy’s towers market.

Mediaset said cost reductions during the first nine months and last year mean the company will reach the 450 million-euro target outlined in its 2013-2014 plan a year ahead of schedule.

In March the broadcaster reported the first annual loss in its history because of the slumping Italian ad market and impairment charges.

Mediaset shares gained 0.2 percent to 3.78 euros in Milan, giving the company a market value of 4.47 billion euros. The figures were released after the market’s close.

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