Comstar Q3 earnings up

Russian telco Comstar has reported a 22 per cent year-on-year increase in third-quarter core earnings, but has said it would cut capital expenditure due to the financial crisis.

Comstar said its adjusted operating income before depreciation and amortisation reached $184.8 million, higher than the average forecast of $163.6 million. Its OIBDA margin increased to 43.8 per cent compared with 38.9 per cent expected by analysts.

Comstar said it is cutting its capital expenditure plans because of weak market conditions and said it would postpone less urgent projects until later in 2009 or beyond. “We have already reduced our projected 2008 capital expenditure to approximately $360 million, which is well below the level originally anticipated, and we will also not exceed this level in 2009,” Irina Matveeva, the company’s chief financial officer, said in a statement.

Comstar's IPTV service – Comstar-UTS – reported 147,000 double play (Internet and pay-TV) subscribers in Moscow at the end of the Q3, 39 per cent more than a year previous. The company also had 150,000 pay-TV subscribers in the Russian regions as of Q3, or 6 per cent more than in the previous quarter.

Comstar-UTS has also reported that it will be consolidating its Stream-TV regional operations in early 2009, potentially boosting its pay-TV subscriber base to over 2 million.

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