Panavision perky

Increase in indie film prod'n boosts profit

NEW YORK — Panavision Inc. overcame a decline in majors’ feature-film starts to lift net profit 33% to $7.6 million on 56% higher revenues of $55.8 million in the third quarter ended Sept. 30, it said Monday.

The company, which makes and rents the cameras used in the majority of feature and television shoots, said an increase in film production by indie companies helped offset lower activity at the majors.

Revenue growth in the quarter was helped by Panavision’s $61 million acquisition last June of the Film Services Group of Visual Action Holdings, Panavision said.

Panavision’s camera rental revenue rose 53.5% in the quarter, or $12.9 million, to $37 million. FSG accounted for $10.2 million of the increase, it said, while the “rental of newly manufactured camera systems … to supply the increased demand” from indies and in television production also contributed.

Panavision said the quarterly performance was “especially noteworthy given a decline of 32% in feature film starts by the major Hollywood studios through the first nine months of 1997” compared with last year. Panavision stock fell 68¢ Monday to $24.25.

Panavision also said that while the “second half of 1997 initially showed acceleration in feature film starts by the major studios, it has become apparent that the industry will not achieve the starts previously anticipated in the fourth quarter.”

TV carrying the weight

The company predicted that it would still show a record fourth quarter, however, partly because activity in its TV segments was “robust.”

The FSG acquisition didn’t contribute much in the way of earnings growth. The acquisition was responsible for a 66% increase in camera rental costs, Panavision said, as well as a 77% increase in overhead costs.

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