Boosey tunes up record year

Boosey & Hawkes, the sheet music and instruments group, turned in a record performance in 1994, pushing pre-tax profits up 16.2 per cent to £5.09m.

Record sales of its Buffet flute, and the increase in popularity of classical music helped boost turnover 14.6 per cent to £82.7m, slightly ahead of analysts' expectation.

Earnings per share increased 10.4 per cent to 17p. The final dividend is 4.58p, raising the total payout by 18 per cent to 5.9p.

The improved performance comes despite the overhang of legal action against Walt Disney and its home video subsidiary for alleged misuse of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring in the video Fantasia. Boosey & Hawkes is suing for more than $200m. Pre-trial papers have now been served although a backlog in the US Federal Courts will mean a substantial delay before the case is heard. All legal costs are being written off as they are incurred.

Improved markets helped turnover for the instrument division increase by 14.8 per cent to £60.9m with operating profit 17.5 percent higher at £3.34m. A new line of environment-friendly woodwind instruments (which use less of the rare African blackwood) was well received by professionals.

The leading German string instrument manufacturer Karl Hofner - acquired in January for £0.5m - is still being integrated into the group and is expected to move into profit this year.

Turnover for the publishing division was up 14 per cent to £21.9m with operating profit up 3.1 percent at £3.4m. Flat royalties in the first half recovered fully in the second half.

Looking ahead, the European Union directive on copyright duration, which is scheduled to take effect in July this year, will help to grow the group's established income stream from its extensive collection of 20th century copyrights as protection terms are extended from 50 to 70 years. This will result in increased or restored copyright protection.

Richard Holland, group chief executive, expects this to impact favourably around the millennium when many composers copyrights are due to expire.

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