Ad numbers slide but Mediaset stock still rises

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Italian broadcast giant Mediaset's stock made a modest jump Wednesday despite the company's admission that ad revenue for the first two months of the year slipped 12% compared with the same period in 2008.

The news, which indicates the erosion in ad sales that plagued the company last year has not abated, came in the wake of the release of 2008 financial results, which were posted after the close of trading Tuesday.

The company reported that profit for the full year slipped 9.4% compared with 2007, to €459 million ($497 million). The company said it will slash its dividend and predicted a "difficult" year for 2009 as a whole.

But Mediaset did offer a glimmer of hope, predicting that the Italian ad market will begin to recover by year's end, while chairman Pier Silvio Berlusconi said the company is on the lookout for acquisition targets among European rivals with beaten-down stock prices.

Mediaset's stock price rose nearly 4% after the release of the results as analysts said the company did a good job keeping costs low in a difficult environment.

Mediaset is controlled by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. (partialdiff)
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