ProSieben Q4 earnings up 17%

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MUNICH -- The ProSiebenSat.1 family of German commercial broadcasters posted record pre-tax profits of €386.7 million ($506.7 million) in 2006 on income of €2.1 billion ($2.8 billion), the company announced Thursday. That represents increases of 10.3% and 5.8%, respectively, over 2005's results.

But the company's performance was slightly below analysts' expectations, according to German media reports. Dow Jones Newswires had predicted a turnover increase of 6.4% for 2006.

The upswing in the German ad market contributed mightily to the bottom line, but the non-broadcasting activities of multimedia subsidiary SevenOne Intermedia also helped to "speed up the growth of the group" as a whole, according to the statement by CEO Guillaume de Posch. SevenOne Intermedia's revenue was up 22.7% over 2005 to €165.7 million ($217 million), and the company posted a profit of €25.2 million ($33 million), representing a rise of 17.2% year-on-year.

The company's flagship channel, ProSieben, did not do as well as the rest of the group, with a 2% drop in income resulting in revenue of €736.8 million ($965.3 million) and pre-tax profits of €147.9 million ($193.8 million) down 11.5% on 2005's figures.

But that was more than made up for by the other channels. Sat.1 income was up 3% to €855.5 million ($1.1 billion) with pre-tax profit at €204.6 million ($268 million), a 27.1% increase over 2005 thanks to cost-cutting at the broadcaster.

Kabel eins, which in the past has featured mostly classic U.S, films and TV series but is now doing more original programming, posted revenues up 14.3% over 2005 to €255.2 million ($334.3 million) in 2006, with pre-tax profits up 48.3% year-on-year to €69.7 million ($91.3 million).

News channel N24 also did better than it had a year earlier, with pre-tax profits rising 39.4% over 2005's results to €13.1 million ($17.2 million).
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