Earnings: Vivendi Up As Music Downloads Double, Games Grow 91.9 Percent

French media conglomerate Vivendi (EPA:VIV) posted H1 earnings of EUR 2.6 billion ($3.54 billion), 10.6 percent better than the same period last year, helped by music downloads and the wild success of World Of Warcraft.

Digital music sales from the Universal Music Group, the world’s largest label, almost doubled (at constant currency rate) but the group’s earnings fell EUR 75 million ($102.2 million) from the same period last year to EUR 220 million ($299.8 million). Universal reckoned it “significantly outperformed its competitors on an operating basis” in a difficult market.

Vivendi Games’ earnings shot up 91.9 percent from 2006 to EUR 119 million ($162 million), thanks primarily to the World Of Warcraft MMPORG and the release of The Burning Crusade expansion for that game, which grew the world’s subscriber base to over nine million.

— The Canal+ French TV unit, 65 percent owned by Vivendi, saw earnings balloon from EUR 190 million ($259 million) in the 2006 period to EUR 340 million ($463.4 million), “mainly driven by the strong performance of pay-TV operations in France”. Canal+ merged with satellite operator Television Par Satellite late last year.

— Telco division SFR, in which Vivendi has a 55.8 percent stake, posted 1.8 percent lower earnings of EUR 1.36 billion ($1.85 billion), blaming caps introduced on call charges by regulators which “do not allow SFR to benefit from the growth of traffic and use”.

— Vivendi’s 20 percent stake in NBC Universal brought in EUR 143 million ($194.9 million) this half – less than the 2006 half’s EUR 157 million ($214 million) – “solely due to the decline of the US dollar”, and is offset by the performance of French broadband provider Neuf Cegetel, in which Vivendi’s SFR has a 40.5 percent stake, which brought home EUR 31 million ($42.2 million), much better than the EUR 2 million ($2.73 million) contributed in the 2006 half.

Within the second calendar quarter, AP reports, net profit dropped 49 percent to EUR 594 million ($809.7 million) (last year’s was inflated because Vivendi sold shares in chemical company DuPont). But the company maintains its full-year net income forecast of EUR 2.7 billion ($3.68 billion), breaking its 2006 record.