A-shares in the company, controlled by the family of late Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi, rose as much as 6.4% following the news.

By 0943 GMT they were up 6%, compared to a broadly flat all-share index.

"MFE could be a beneficiary from pan-European consolidation and cyclical pressures could present opportunities to buy assets at attractive prices," J.P Morgan analysts said in a note on the results.

However, the company has "nothing to announce in coming weeks or months" on the M&A front, CFO Marco Giordani told analysts in a conference call.

He added that MFE is receiving a "lot of interest" in its pan-European project.

MFE holds a 29% stake in German peer Prosiebensat.1 and sees European expansion as the way to resist the increasing dominance of U.S. streaming giants such as Netflix, and help offset the flight of advertising budgets to the likes of Facebook and Google.

MFE said it had started using the equity method of accounting for the ProSieben stake in its earnings.

The Italian company said its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) in the nine months ending Sept. 30 came in at 98.3 million euros ($107.2 million), up from 97.6 million in the same period last year.

That compares with an 81 million euro analyst consensus provided by the company.

Total operating costs fell 2.1% to 1.76 billion euros, thanks to savings stemming from the internal merger of its Spanish operations, the company said.

MFE said total gross advertising revenue, which include sales from the group's Spanish TV business, fell to 1.83 billion euros from 1.85 billion euros in the same period last year.

Like its European peers, MFE is wrestling with falling advertising spending due to sluggish economic growth in the region, and as high inflation squeezes businesses' profit margins.

MFE stuck to a forecast for a positive operating profit and cash flow this year.

It gave an encouraging sales update on the final quarter of the year, which is crucial for broadcasters as they strive to capture corporate advertising spending in the run up to Christmas.

MFE said it expected sales in November to grow 8% in its key domestic market, replicating a similar increase seen in October.

($1 = 0.9168 euros)

(Additional reporting by Federica Urso; Editing by Valentina Za and Alvise Armellini and Miral Fahmy)

By Elvira Pollina