Vivendi Fit To Burst

Lower third-quarter earnings were bit of a blow for Vivendi but were offset by an improved performance from Universal Music Group, which is rapidly becoming its main core business.

The French media giant’s Q3 earnings of $506 million was 23.7 percent down year-on-year, while revenues were a narrow 0.2 percent up at $7.19 billion.

Universal’s earnings before interest, taxes and amortization were up 36.6 percent to $151 million, apparently the result of higher revenues and “strict cost management.”

Universal is on course to make the $160 million worth of cost savings it targeted when buying EMI.

Vivendi has made clear that it’ll now focus on its content businesses such as Universal Music Group and French pay TV firm Canal Plus, although the Financial Times has been talking to business writers wondering if that’s the way to go.

Their argument is that Vivendi’s status as the owner of the world’s largest recorded music group leaves it with little regulatory headroom for further acquisitions, certainly not in the same sector.

Days after the figures were released, Universal had eight albums in the U.S. Top Ten.

Vivendi’s direction was further underlined when it recently sold most of its stake in games business Activision Blizzard for $8.2 billion.

The management team behind the Activision buyout is expected to buy Vivendi’s remaining 12 percent within 18 months.

Activision, once Vivendi’s flagship venture, saw its Q3 earnings fall from $751 million to $691 million, although the video game publisher still beat Wall Street expectations.

Industry analysts had predicted the earnings figure would be around $635 million.