SES earnings beat expectations and retains outlook

Fri Nov 9, 2012 2:05am EST

* Q3 revenue 467.7 mln euros vs Rtrs poll consensus 452 mln euros

* Q3 core profit 346.9 mln euros vs Rtrs poll 332 mln euros

* Keeps 2012 outlook

* Digital demand growth outweighs loss from German analogue switch-off

BRUSSELS, Nov 9 (Reuters) - Satellite operator SES reported third-quarter earnings above market expectations, with demand for digital and high-definition television more than making up for the switch-off of analogue services in Germany.

SES, which sells transmission capacity to the likes of BSkyB, Canal+, Echostar and India's Dish TV, said on Friday its revenue rose 8.7 percent to 467.7 million euros ($595.2 million), compared with the 452 million euro average forecast in a Reuters poll of seven brokers.

Core profit rose 8.4 percent from a year earlier to 346.9 million euros, beating the 332 million euro average forecast in the Reuters poll.

SES, which broadcasts over 5,200 television channels, repeated its forecast that revenues, based on constant exchange rates, would grow by about 2 percent and core profit by 2.5 percent this year.

The corresponding growth rates for the first nine months were 1.6 and 1.8 percent.

The growth rates are lower than in 2011 due to the delayed launch of a satellite and the switch-off of analogue television in Germany.

SES stopped receiving revenue from analogue broadcasting to Germany, which totaled 150 million euros in 2011, given the end of analogue satellite transmission there at the end of April.

The Luxembourg-based company said the SES-4 satellite, the 50th in its fleet, became operational in mid-April. Its 51st satellite, SES-5, was launched in July and became operational in September. Both should propel earnings in the fourth quarter.

SES has suffered limited pain since the global financial crisis began in 2008 because its revenue is mostly from steady rental of satellite capacity as thrifty consumers go out less and spend more time at home watching television.

Indeed, the company is one of few that can point to strength in western Europe, with the likes of Canal+ and BBC renewing contracts and helping build a record high order backlog of 7.2 billion euros.

The operators have mainly achieved growth by expanding in digital television in emerging markets, notably India and Latin America, and via the developed world's shift to high-definition broadcasting. ($1 = 0.7857 euros) (Reporting By Philip Blenkinsop)

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