Spelling results up for second quarter

NEW YORK — A strong performance from television operations helped lift Spelling Entertainment Group Inc. back into the black in the second quarter, compared with the 1996 period, when it was awash in red ink.

Spelling reported net income of $3 million or 3¢ a share in the latest quarter. This compares with a $22 million net loss equal to 24¢, which was largely attributable to a $20.2 million loss from discontinued operations at Virgin Interactive Entertainment.

In February, Spelling announced its plans to divest its majority interest in Virgin Interactive by the end of the year. As a result, the company’s 1996 results have been restated.

Spelling’s revenue surged 50% in the latest quarter to $148.4 million from $99.2 million.

The company reported a loss of $2.5 million before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization — a measure also known as cash flow that is closely followed by Wall Street analysts — for the 1997 quarter. This compares with cash flow of $2.2 million for the 1996 period.

Commenting on the results, Spelling Entertainment Group president Peter H. Bachmann said, “Our television unit contributed strong numbers through the first half of the year with solid performances from ‘Beverly Hills, 90210,’ ‘Melrose Place,’ ‘Moesha’ and ‘Judge Judy.’ Also during this period, we began releasing ‘Breakdown’ internationally, furthering our strategy of producing and acquiring films for sale and distribution in the international marketplace, while strictly limiting downside risk.”

Revenues from the company’s television units, comprising Spelling Television, Big Ticket Television and Worldvision Enterprises, rose 29% to $98.5 million from $76.5 million. Cash flow for the television units climbed 83% to $9.5 million from $5.2 million.

Helping to lift the TV group’s performance were higher network license fees for established series such as “Beverly Hills, 90210” and “Melrose Place,” a greater number of programming hours delivered to the networks and continued worldwide exploitation of the company’s current and library programming.

Revenues from the company’s feature film operations, including Spelling Films and Republic Entertainment, gained 136% to $47 million from $19.9 million. The unit reported a loss before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $8.1 million compared to EBITDA of $516,000 in the comparable 1996 period.

The feature film division’s results reflect the strong performance of “Breakdown,” in limited international release, as well as the homevideo release of Spelling Films’ “Stephen King’s Thinner.” The company noted that “Night Falls on Manhattan” turned in a “disappointing” domestic box office performance.

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