Slowly but surely, CME is recovering from what have been a difficult couple of years and re-establishing its position as one of the leading media companies in Central and Eastern Europe.
First quarter results published earlier this week show that its revenues increased by just over 20% and OIBDA by 17 times in the quarter. Its liquidity, as president and CEO Adrian Sarbu pointed out in a conference call, now stands at over $300 million (€204.3 million).
CME already appears to be delivering on its priorities for 2011, which are growth in revenues, OIBDA and positive cash flow. Doing so is undoubtedly being helped by the strong position it occupies in all six markets it operates in.
Sarbu was keen to state the positive contribution the leading Bulgarian station bTV, acquired in April last year, is now making to CME’s performance. He also spoke about the growth being experienced by Media Pro Entertainment and the New Media Division, as well as the leading Czech and Slovak content rights distribution company Bontonfilm, which CME agreed to acquire last month, and the contribution it is expected to make to the bottom line.
However, despite all these promising developments, CME’s recovery is closely tied to – and therefore ultimately dependent on – TV ad spend in the markets it operates in. Sarbu said that the company expects the latter to be “flat or slightly positive” in the first half of this year and to pick up in the second, growing in all six markets in 2011 as a whole.
As things currently stand, growth has returned to the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia but not to Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia.
Although CME started off its activities in Central and Eastern Europe nearly two decades ago as a commercial broadcaster, it is now most definitely a multimedia company. Its new media business is growing strongly and paid content portal VOYO should be available in all six markets by the end of the year.