UPDATE 2-French broadcaster TF1 expects advertising to stay weak

Fri Jul 25, 2014 7:47am EDT

(Adds shares, outlook, analyst comment)

PARIS, July 25 (Reuters) - France's largest private broadcaster TF1 said weak demand for advertising in its home market looked set to continue in the second half of the year, sending its shares down more than 7 percent on Friday.

Chief Executive Nonce Paolini told analysts that big companies remained reluctant to spend money on marketing, given France's sputtering economy.

"For now, we're in a soft patch," he said, adding that he expected little change for the rest of the year.

TF1 shares were down 7.2 percent at 11.1 euros at 1139 GMT, taking the fall so far this year to almost 21 percent.

Paolini was speaking after the broadcaster posted sharply lower operating profit in the second quarter because of higher costs associated with broadcasting the soccer World Cup.

Second-quarter sales of 556 million euros ($748 million) were slightly lower than the 566 million euros analysts had been expecting, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Operating profit fell to 13 million euros from 63.3 million a year earlier.

"The outlook statement is very cautious, citing no clear signs of recovery in France, low visibility and rising competitive pressures," Liberum analysts wrote in a note for clients.

Net profit of 310.9 million euros was inflated by a gain of 293.8 million euros on the sale of a controlling stake in sports channel Eurosport to U.S.-based Discovery Communications in May.

TF1 also reiterated its goal to achieve 19 million euros of recurring cost savings in the second half of the year.

TF1 competes for viewers and advertisers with state-backed France Televisions and private peer M6, as well as a raft of newer free-to-air channels.

Southern European broadcasters have fared worse than those in Germany and Britain so far this year, because advertisers there are loathe to spend when growth remains anemic.

($1 = 0.7425 Euros) (Reporting by Leila Abboud and Gwenaelle Barzic; Editing by Erica Billingham)

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