PRAGUE, July 25 (Reuters) - Broadcaster Central European Media Enterprises (CME) posted a higher-than-expected 14 percent rise in core profit in the second quarter on Tuesday, lifted by gains in its Czech market.
The group, looking to use growth this year to begin paying down its $1 billion debt pile, took a big step in its de-leveraging efforts this month by announcing plans to sell its operations in Croatia and Slovenia this year.
It said on Tuesday that that deal, and the decrease in borrowing costs that will follow it, brought its de-leveraging plans forward by a year and will help it shift away from its debt reduction focus by 2019.
“The first half of the year has been marked by important transactions and impressive financial performance, the combination of which positions us for a significant reduction in our leverage over the next 18 months,” co-Chief Executive Michael Del Nin said.
CME reported second-quarter revenue of $181.9 million, up 3.8 percent year-on-year. Operating income before depreciation and amortisation (OIBDA) reached $61.2 million, rising from $53.6 million a year ago.
Television advertising in CME’s six central and eastern European markets grew 2 percent in the first half of the year, showing rising demand in Romania and higher spending in the Czech Republic - its two biggest markets.
CME said carriage fees and subscriptions rose by a fifth in the first half and it reiterated expectations for revenue from this growing segment to increase by double digits this year.
In its first-quarter earnings call, CME forecast full-year OIBDA to grow 13-17 percent at constant rates in 2017.
The company, whose main shareholder is U.S. media group Time Warner, will hold a conference call later on Tuesday to discuss second-quarter results. (Reporting by Jason Hovet; Editing by Jon Boyle)