UPDATE 1-TF1 swings to first-quarter operating profit helped by cost cuts

Wed Apr 30, 2014 3:32pm EDT

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PARIS, April 30 (Reuters) - France's largest private television broadcaster TF1 swung to a narrow operating profit in the first quarter helped by cost cuts and delays to certain programmes despite what it described as ongoing uncertainty in the advertising market.

TF1, which competes with smaller rival M6 and state-backed France Televisions, posted a 10.9 million euro ($15.1 million) operating profit, after a loss of 20.7 million euros in the same period last year.

Sales fell 1.6 percent to 469.7 million euros, hurt largely by lower sales of on-demand video.

Analysts had forecast an operating loss of 3 million euros and sales of 503 million euros, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Lower costs were behind the profit outperformance, but Chief Financial Officer Philippe Denery said they would not continue at similar levels. "Reinvestment will be made for the rest of the year," he said, adding that the savings were "tactical" from pushing back new programmes and airing re-runs.

The group confirmed an earlier cost-cutting target of 25 million euros this year.

It said that although advertisers remained cautious on spending, special events like the soccer World Cup this summer were likely to boost sales.

($1 = 0.7212 Euros) (Reporting by Leila Abboud and Gwenaelle Barzic; Editing by Leigh Thomas and Pravin Char)