November 16, 2018 / 8:06 AM / 10 months ago

Vivendi shares surge as growth at UMG spurs increase in Q3 sales

PARIS, Nov 16 (Reuters) - Vivendi shares rose on Friday after the French media conglomerate reported better-than-expected third quarter sales, helped by growth at its Universal Music Group (UMG) arm.

Vivendi shares were up 5.1 percent in early session trading.

Late on Thursday, Vivendi reported that sales had risen 5.5 percent in the third quarter from a year ago to 3.38 billion euros ($3.84 billion), beating a forecast in an Inquiry Financial poll for Reuters of 3.3 billion euros.

It added it had no plans to sell its stake in Telecom Italia and that it was lining up banks for a possible sale of part of its Universal Music Group arm.

“We reiterate our take on Vivendi that the group’s strategy is shifting this year from aggressive mergers and acquisition tactics to portfolio rationalization and sweet shareholder returns,” wrote brokerage Raymond James, keeping an “outperform” rating on Vivendi shares.

Pierre Willot, a fund manager at Paris-based firm Montaigne Capital, said Vivendi’s third-quarter sales figures were good but added he was steering clear of buying the stock for now, given tough competition faced by Vivendi’s Canal Plus unit.

“The sales figures seemed very positive, with a new acceleration at Universal Music Group, but we have some doubts over Canal Plus, which is facing heavy competition from Netflix,” said Willot.

$1 = 0.8808 euros Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Dominique Vidalon

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