eOne posts higher pre-tax profit, confirms Alliance Films purchase talk

Entertainment One cautions "no certainty" that discussions with Alliance Films may lead to acquisition.

Entertainment One reported Monday it doubled its pre-tax profit in the fiscal year to $37 million, on overall revenue up 7% to $803 million, as higher filmed entertainment revenue offset a continuing decline in wholesale distribution revenue amid the DVD slump.

It also admitted it was interested in “a possible acquisition of Alliance Films,” a topic of speculation in the industry in recent weeks. On this point it continued, “the board confirms it has held discussions with the shareholders of Alliance Films but there can be no certainty this will lead to a transaction.  In any event (eOne) would only undertake such a transaction on acceptable terms.”

It made no more mention of the talks.

“The growth in our television business and doubling of digital sales have been particular highlights and demonstrate the success of our multi-platform strategy,” Darren Throop, president and CEO of the Canadian producer and distributor, said in a statement.

Entertainment One delivered 237 half hours of TV programming during the year to March 31, including TMN’s Call Me Fitz and Global Television’s Rookie Blue.

The company also released 152 films theatrically over the year,  compared to 121 in the prior year.

The latest releases included The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn –Part 1, We Need to Talk About Kevin and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

In Canada, film revenue rose 3% on 54 theatrical releases, compared to 56 in the prior year.

The entertainment division, comprising film and TV businesses, reported combined revenue up 21% to $560 million, which offset a 16% fall in wholesale distribution revenue to $297.5 million following “challenging market conditions” in Canada.

“2011/12 was a difficult year for the business with the overall Canadian market experiencing double digit decline in the demand for DVDs,” the company, which trades on the London Stock Exchange, said as it released its latest results.

with files from Matt Sylvain