Telecom Italia boasts Q1 revenue boost


ROME -- Fueled by rising advertising income, revenue for Telecom Italia Media grew by nearly a third over the first quarter of the year compared with the year-ago period and the company's losses narrowed, according to financial results released Tuesday.

Telecom Italia Media -- the broadcast arm of former state telephone monopoly Telecom Italia -- is the smallest of Italy's three national broadcasters. The company's main holdings are the La 7 network and MTV-Italia.

The strong financial results come as the future of the company becomes less clear. A group led by Spain's Telefonica last week acquired control of Telecom Italia, and there is no official word yet whether the Italian company's new owners will want to invest in Telecom Italia Media or sell it off to raise cash.

Financial analysts said that if the Telefonica-led consortium does decide to shop Telecom Italia Media around, the latest results would help.

"The better the company's financial health is, the more attractive it will be to buyers," Carlo Parizotto, an analyst with ABS Securities in Milan, said in an interview.

According to the financial statement from the company, revenue for the first half of the year totaled €57.6 million ($78.3 million), up 32% compared with €43.8 million in the year-ago period. Telecom Italia Media continued to lose money, but the losses contracted year-to-year, totaling €19.3 million ($26.2 million) compared with €26.3 million.

The company said expenses were more or less flat when compared with the year-ago period and that surging ad sales helped the bottom line.

Telecom Italia Media stock has performed well since the April 30 deal with Telefonica, jumping more than 10% on speculation that the company could be sold off at a premium.