Alliance Atlantis reports record earnings increase

TORONTO - Earnings quadrupled at Alliance Atlantis in the first quarter, the film and television production company reported Monday.

The Toronto firm said it made $6.1 million, or 18 cents a share, up from $1.4 million, or 4 cents a share, from the same quarter a year ago.

Alliance Atlantis' revenues hit $172.8 million, up from $105.6 million in the first quarter of last fiscal year.

The company said its motion picture revenues grew 91 per cent to $70.4 million, thanks to releases such as Bridget Jones's Diary, Blow and Spy Kids, and video sales of Traffic, Little Nicky, Bounce and Dungeons and Dragons.

Television revenues grew 62 per cent to $62 million, boosted by sales of crime drama CSI. Revenues at the company's broadcast group, which includes Showcase, Life Network, History Television, HGTV and Food Network Canada, were up 21 per cent to $32.4 million.

Next month, the company is set to add new digital channels including Showcase Action, National Geographic Canada, BBC Canada and Discovery Health Channel Canada.

Paid subscribers for all specialty channel interests increased 20.1% to 31.7 million compared to 26.4 million in the prior year.

Digital Channels

"Our focus on strong branding and exceptional content are the cornerstones of our success in specialty broadcasting" said Chairman and CEO Michael MacMillan MacMillan. "Our commitment to extend our branding strategy to our new digital channels has enabled us to secure carriage agreements with Shaw, Starchoice, Bell ExpressVu and, subsequent to the quarter end, Rogers. Together, these agreements will allow us to reach approximately 85% of digital households with our new digital channels."

Motion Picture Group

Revenue for the Motion Picture Group was $70.4 million compared to $36.9 million in the first quarter last year, an increase of 90.8%. This growth was due to strong domestic theatrical releases including Bridget Jones's Diary, Blow, and Spy Kids as well as impressive video sales from Traffic, Little Nicky, Bounce and Dungeons and Dragons. "We are also extremely pleased with the continued profitable growth of Momentum Pictures, our wholly-owned U.K based distribution business" said MacMillan. "Through the strategic acquisition of high quality video and DVD libraries as well as a select slate of theatrical releases Momentum is now making a significant contribution to our operating earnings."

Gross profit for the Motion Picture Group in the quarter was $15.3 million compared to $9.3 million last year, an increase of 64.5%.

Television Group

The Television Group's revenue in the first quarter was $62.0 million, compared to $38.2 million in the same quarter last year, representing an increase of 62.3%. This was primarily due to increased production deliveries. In the current year's quarter, 34.5 production hours were delivered compared with 19.5 hours in the prior year's period.

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