Central European Media Enterprises lifts guidance after third-quarter profit rise

PRAGUE (Reuters) - Broadcaster Central European Media Enterprises (CME) CETV.OCETV.PR raised its operating profit guidance on Thursday for the third time this year, after third-quarter earnings just beat analysts' expectations.

The market is waiting for news about the possible sale of CME by majority owner AT&T T.N. PPF, the investment group of the Czech Republic's richest man Petr Kellner, is reported to be the last remaining bidder.

CME’s adjusted operating profit (OIBDA) came in at $41.4 million in the third quarter, topping analysts’ average forecast of $39.2 million.

The company said it had also increased its OIBDA guidance for the third time this year, but did not give a figure in a statement. CME management will comment on the results at a conference call at 3:00 p.m. local time (1300 GMT).

CME’s shares were up 2.5% on the Prague Stock Exchange at 0750 GMT.

The broadcaster, which operates TV stations in five central and eastern European countries, has seen profits rise in recent years and has cut into a debt pile that once topped $1 billion.

Overall, net revenues rose to $138.9 million in the third quarter, supported by growth in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia, outweighing a decline in Bulgaria and Romania.

Operating income for the whole group jumped to $30.8 million from $22.2 million in the same quarter last year.

Reporting by Robert Muller; Editing by Mark Potter