eOne sales down but Peppa props up profits

Peppa-1Entertainment One (eOne) has seen its half-year revenues dip slightly, but evergreen kids series Peppa Pig drove group profits up as it continues to build scale.

London-listed eOne posted unaudited revenues of £395.7 million (US$523.7 million), which was down 1% from £401 million in the same period the year before.

However, underlying EBITDA was up 36%, from £$37.7 million to £51.4 million, largely thanks to Peppa Pig’s performance in China, where the preschool toon will have 60 merchandising agreements in place by the end of 2018.

Pre-tax profit was £800,000 compared with a £2.5 million loss in 2016.

Television division earnings – including production of shows such as Ice and Burden of Truth, sales of The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead and content from Designated Survivor prodco The Mark Gordon Company – were up 11% to £20.6 million, but its film unit performed less well.

eOne recently moved to bring its TV and film divisions together, which it predicts will lead to annual cost savings of £8 million by 2020 – a year it has previously singled out as when it plans to have doubled in size from its 2015 position.

The TV division will deliver more than 900 hours in produced or distributed programming for the full year; with investment in acquired content at more than £40 million and production spend to hit £160 million.

Overall half-year TV revenues were £168.5 million, compared with £144.5 million in 2016. Mark Gordon revenues were up 82% at £51.6 million, with profits growing 10% and coming in at £9.9 million.

eOne executive VP Margaret O’Brien is also stepping down as an executive board director, with CFO Joseph Sparacio coming in.

eOne said O’Brien was stepping down “to increase the proportion of independent non-executive directors”, with ex-Telus exec CFO Robert MacFarlane and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Michael Friisdahl joining.

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