Spain's Telefonica today posted falling revenue and profit in the first nine months of the year. 

However, a rise in customers signing up for its broadband and pay-TV deals showed a turnaround from a three-year slump was gathering pace. 

While encouraging, the trend may not feed into the bottom line of the balance sheet for another few months as bundled packages that combine mobile and fixed-line phones, high-speed Internet and TV push down margins in the key Spanish market. 

Europe's biggest telecoms group by revenue said its net profit fell 9.4% during the period to €2.85 billion, but beat analysts' forecasts. 

Operating income before depreciation and amortisation dropped 12.6%, to €12.33 billion and revenue shrank 10.9% to €37.98 billion. 

Both revenue and operating income were hit by lower Latin American currencies, especially in Venezuela and Argentina, but that effect eased in the quarter between July and September, helping the group to beat forecasts for the two metrics. 

Telefonica, which has shed non-core assets to focus on its European and Latin American markets, sold half of its stake in China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd for $854m earlier this month. 

The capital gains will help the firm hit its year-end debt target of €43 billion. 

Net debt stood at €41.2 billion at the end of September but it was €44.9 billion when operations related to the acquisition of German competitor E-Plus last year as well as other corporate moves are included. These will be reflected in earnings later this year.