Spanish, Italian Markets Rebound for Mediaset

Mediaset Tower H

The Belusconi-owned conglomorate says business is returning to normal after the European crisis.

After a long period of low ad sales in Italy, profits for Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset company are finally looking up.

In a new earnings announcement, the broadcaster said its 2014 net profit reached $29.3 million (€23.7 million), as opposed to $11 million (€8.9 million) in 2013.

Sales last year came out at $3.73 billion (€3.41 billion), slightly less than in 2013.

While advertising in Spain has been on the rise since last year, Italy is now seeing a slow return to normal.

“In Italy, the trend in the advertising market at the beginning of 2015 confirmed the progressive improvement of the previous quarters,” said the company in a statement.

Mediaset is forecasting a 2 percent to 4 percent rise in advertising sales this year.

After a two-year pause, the stock has proposed to begin paying dividends again, equal to €0.02 a share.

"We consider the worst to be over,” said chief financial officer Marco Giordani on a conference call. “The size of the dividend is not material, it's more a sign of confidence in the future.”

Debt has also fallen to $1.06 billion (€861.3 million) in 2014, compared to $1.8 billion (€1.46 billion) in 2013.

The company is continuing to cut operating costs, while pouring money into soccer rights. Last year it beat Rupert Murdoch's Sky Italia in a bid to broadcast the UEFA Champions League from 2015-2018, in a move that cost the company approximately $865 million (€700 million). They’re currently looking for a partner for Mediaset’s premium pay TV offering, but has denied rumors that they’re looking to sell the operation outright.