'Four Weddings' pushes PolyGram profits to pounds 85m: Group's half-year result fails to impress analysts

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The Independent Online
THE FILM Four Weddings and a Funeral helped PolyGram, the entertainment group, to raise net profits by 14.7 per cent to 234m guilders ( pounds 85.64m) in the first half.

The company, which is 85 per cent-owned by Philips of the Netherlands, said the low- budget comedy had grossed more than dollars 125m ( pounds 81.08m) at the box office since it opened in March.

Alain Levy, president and chief executive officer, said the film was set for further success when released on video later this year. 'I believe we are building a reputation for good-quality popular films,' he said.

Sales grew by 14 per cent to 3.6bn guilders, and in local currencies were up 10 per cent, while earnings per share rose 8.3 per cent to 1.30 guilders.

The results fell short of some market forecasts and analysts had mixed views on the quality of the group's performance. One said the market had become used to regular profit increases of between 16 per cent and 18 per cent and was dismayed at anything less.

PolyGram did not break down its profits by division but a spokeswoman said the group's film business had grown by 56 per cent in the first half of 1994 compared with the same period last year. It is understood the film arm is making a loss but this loss is being reduced.

The highlights of PolyGram's popular music business were Soundgarden's Superunknown album, which sold more than 2 million copies, and Salt 'N' Pepa's Very Necessary, which almost hit the 2 million mark. Later this year, the company will release albums from artists including Stevie Wonder and Boyz II Men as well as greatest hits collections from Sting and Bon Jovi.

Classical music sales showed signs of recovery. The best- selling releases included Pavarotti's My Heart's Delight and Cecilia Bartoli's Italian Songs. Releases planned for the next few months include Jessye Norman in Salome and Placido Domingo in a new recording of Otello.

(Photograph omitted)

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