April 30, 2019 / 6:47 AM / a year ago

Broadcaster CME beats Q1 core profit estimates, raises forecasts

PRAGUE, April 30 (Reuters) - Central European Media Enterprises (CME) on Tuesday reported a better than expected 7.7 percent rise in first-quarter core profit, leading the broadcaster to lift its full-year outlook.

CME, active in five central and eastern European markets, reported operating income before depreciation and amortisation (OIBDA) of $38.1 million in the quarter, beating the average estimate of $35.8 million in a Reuters poll.

Revenue fell 6.5 percent at actual exchange rates to $146.6 million in the quarter, hurt by a 10 percent drop in television advertising.

CME said in the first fourth months of the year, which included the Easter holiday, TV ad revenue rose by 3 percent year-on-year at constant rates.

"The year has gotten off to an outstanding start, exceeding our previous expectations to such an extent that we are raising our guidance for 2019," co-Chief Executive Michael Del Nin said.

CME did not detail its updated outlook. It is due to hold a teleconference later on Tuesday. In February, it had estimated a 10-12 percent rise in OIBDA at constant exchange rates in 2019.

CME's core profit OIBDA margin rose 360 basis points in the quarter to 26 percent, the highest in more than a decade.

The company, majority owned by AT&T, has been seeking in recent years to cut debt that had topped $1 billion. It repaid 60 million euros in debt in the first quarter, cutting its net leverage ratio to 3 times, from 3.5 times a year ago.

CME announced in March it had launched a review of strategic options, including the possible sale all or part of the company.

Reporting by Jason Hovet

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