Vivendi Universal differentiated itself from rival media conglomerate AOL Time Warner when it today announced first half results that were better than expectations.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were up 53% to $1.19bn (Euros1.37bn) on sales up 14% at of Euros6.59bn. Its shares bounced Euros2.5 to Euros66.15. Last week they had slid to an all time low of Euros53.75 in the wake of AOL Time Warner's disappointing figures.

Growth came across the board headed by film, telecoms and music - an area where AOL Time Warner suffered.

Second-quarter earnings in the film and television division to Euros314m compared with Euros284m in the first quarter. It was boosted by hits such as The Mummy Returns, which has grossed $400m worldwide, and The Fast And The Furious. The Steven Spielberg-produced Jurassic Park III is expected to lift earnings in the current quarter.

The group also benefited for the moment from cost-cutting measures. During the first half, Vivendi said it had achieved nearly Euros200m of savings in procurement, logistics, headquarters costs and information technology and said it was confident of delivering over Euros400m by 2002

"With three quarters of (our) 'aggressive' EBITDA target for full year 2001 already achieved in the first half, I can only re-emphasise our confidence. We will at least meet our stated targets," chairman and CEO Jean-Marie Messier said in a statement.