TV animator's profits soar to over pounds 400,000

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THE WOMBLES, Nellie the Elephant and Paddington Bear have helped boost first-half figures at Storm Group, the UK's largest television animation and merchandising company.

Pre-tax profits soared to pounds 407,000 in first half of the year against pounds 50,000 last time. James Driscoll, chairman, said Storm expected to be able to recommend a final dividend if profits held up in the second half.

Mr Driscoll said the figures were helped by Storm's appointment as Paramount Pictures' exclusive UK licensing and merchandising representative, responsible for films such as Star Trek, The Addams Family and Wayne's World.

Sleepy Kids, another animation and character merchandising company, hopes Budgie the Helicopter, featured in books written by the Duchess of York, will help improve future figures.

Yesterday Sleepy Kids announced a pounds 109,000 interim loss in the six months to 30 April, against a pounds 62,000 loss last time. Turnover fell 28 per cent to pounds 80,000.

The company proposes to raise up to pounds 301,000 with a private placing of 4.3 million shares at 7p. It has firm commitments for nearly half of them. Yesterday the shares closed down 3.5p at 6.5p.