Pinewood Studios profits up by a third after series of box office hits

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The Independent Online

A string of blockbusters including the new James Bond film and a werewolf movie called The Wolfman sent profits at Pinewood Shepperton film studios up by a third in the first half of the year.

The company saw total revenues of £21.7m in the six months to June and made operating profits of £4.8m. Film revenues, which are its core business, were up by 20 per cent to £13m. But other divisions also did well. Revenue from television productions was nearly £1m higher than last year at £5.8m, with major productions including Gladiators, Little Dorrit and Dragon's Den using the studios.

Television is crucial to the group's diversification strategy to leave it less exposed to the volatile film industry, and Pinewood is upgrading its facilities to meet emerging requirements. Ivan Dunleavy, its chief executive, said: "The past six months have continued to demonstrate Pinewood Shepperton's ability to diversify and deliver consistent revenue streams even in times of wider economic uncertainty."

The strategy also includes property developments. A scheme to establish a hub for the creative industries, called Project Pinewood, has cost £1.3m so far and is expected to go to the planning authorities later this year. The Shepperton Studios Property Partnership, in which the group holds a 50 per cent stake, provides services to more than 290 media businesses and opened the 60,000 square foot Gainsborough building in May.

Despite difficulties facing the media sector, Pinewood's outlook is confident and the company has agreed new five-year financing arrangements. "The level of visibility on prospective revenues reinforces the board's confidence in the outlook for the year as a whole," Mr Dunleavy said.

The group's performance is particularly welcome after last year's US writers' strike saw a major shoot cancelled and wiped some £3m off revenues.

Steve Liechti, an analyst at Investec, said: "Sum-of-the-parts analysis suggests a decent share price upside, although we accept that neither property nor media are particularly in vogue currently."