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Earnings: Vivendi Finds Money In Music, NBCU Drags, 'Record' Games Profit

This story was written by Robert Andrews.
French multimedia conglomerate Vivendi (EPA: VIV) scored 4.95 billion ($6.24 billion) EBITA in its 2008 full-year - that's 5.6 percent more at constant currency rates - thanks to 18.3 percent better sales of 25.39 billion ($32 billion). As a result, the company announced a 7.7 percent higher dividend than last year of 1.40 ($1.76)...

Universal Music Group: Recorded music sales are still shrinking, down 4.8 percent at constant currency rates. But 31 percent better digital sales, driven by online income in "all large countries" and mobile music outside North America, helped UMG pre-tax profit up 11.6 percent to 686 million ($864 million), on 0.2 percent worse sales of 4.65 billion ($5.86 billion). Digital wasn't the only contributor - music publishing, artist services and merchandising helped, too, after UMG bought BMG Music Publishing and Sanctuary in 2007, proving there's still money to be made in areas other than recorded music.

NBC Universal: Vivendi pulled 255 million ($321 million) from its NBC overseas TV venture - that's 46 million ($58 million) less than last year, half attributed to a performance dip and half to the dollar's decline against the euro.

Activision (NSDQ: ATVI) Blizzard: Having amalgamated Vivendi Games with Activision, the new unit reported pre-tax profit of 34 million ($42.8 million) on 2.09 billion ($2.63 billion) sales. The operation was only combined for part of the year in question, but Vivendi still calls this "record results" for the combined entity. Just look at its influence, World Of Warcraft added 1.5 million subs in 2008, taking it up to 11.5 million; Activision Blizzard had four of 2008's top 10 games by sales and, in Guitar Hero and Call Of Duty, two of the top five franchises in North America and Europe.

Canal+: The French pay-TV outfit scored 568 million ($716 million) pre-tax profit after its merger with satellite system TPS, on 4.4 percent better sales of 4.55 billion ($5.73 billion). Bucking the trend, Canal cited higher TV subs and "increased advertising revenues in an adverse economic climate" as helping its domestic operations to 2.8 percent better sales.

SFR: The telco's sales rose 28.1 percent to 11.5 billion ($14.4 billion) after it swallowed Neuf Cegetel and Tele2's broadband business. Otherwise, it's up 1.2 percent thanks to growing mobile and broadband customer base - SFR got 32.1 percent more money from mobile and the new Neufbox broadband box helped SFR grow its broadband base by 7.7 percent.


By Robert Andrews

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