(Adds further details, shares)
MADRID, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Spanish media company Prisa (PRS.MC) on Thursday posted 2007 net profit of 192 million euros ($281 million), 16.1 percent down, beating market forecasts and helped by a large rise in advertising income.
A Reuters poll of 15 analysts had forecast on average net profit of 177 million euros on revenues of 3.66 billion euros and EBITDA of 733 million euros.
The owner of national newspaper El Pais and majority shareholder in audiovisual group Sogecable SGCE.MC, posted core profit (EBITDA) of 780 miliion euros, up nearly 47 percent year-on-year.
Analysts had expected the net profit figure to be hurt by higher debt costs while core profit was swelled by a change in accounting related to the acquisition of a majority stake in Sogecable and the purchase of Media Capital.
Advertising income, also favoured by contributions from Sogecable and Media Capital, rose 46.7 percent overall with a 6.4 percent rise at El Pais and 11 percent in its domestic radio operations.
Prisa’s net debt stood at 3.01 billion euros at the end of 2007, up from 2.56 billion at the end of 2006. The figure has piled up due to acquisitions, and analysts have worried the figure may rise further.
Prisa owns a clutch of communications interests, including national radio station Cadena SER and Santillana, which publishes text books.
Late last year it launched a 28 euros-per-share bid to extend its 50 percent stake in audiovisual unit Sogecable SGCE.MC, and the group expects to close the bid by March or April, when it will announce an overhaul of its audiovisual interests.
The company said it had signed a bridge loan with HSBC (HSBA.L) for a maximum of 4.23 billion euros over six months.
It said this was to cover a guarantee it had provided to the stock market regulator to back its bid for Sogecable as well as a 2.05 billion euro policy to cover, if necessary the refinancing of a syndicated loan signed in June 2007. Prisa shares closed 3.7 percent lower at 9.90 euros ahead of the results announcement compared to a 1.1 percent fall for Madrid's Ibex 35 index .IBEX. (Reporting by Joe Ortiz)