Bolstered by strong first half, co. raises its forecast for year

BERLIN — An increase in sales of in-house productions and an expansion of its TV entertainment division helped propel Constantin Film out of the red as the German film group posted a half-year net profit of l2.7 million ($3.3 million), up from a $3.2 million loss last year.

Box office hits like “The Passion of Christ” and “Lost in Translation” also buoyed the producer-distrib’s bottom line.

Revenues grew by $78 million to $122 million thanks in large part to the company’s consolidation of TV format producer Constantin Entertainment, formerly Kirch Media Entertainment. The division, which Constantin acquired last year, contributed sales of $46 million.

Theatrical distribution pulled in some $16.6 million, homevid sales more than doubled to $11 million and TV licensing accounted for $31 million, an increase of $13.3 million.

Constantin CEO Fred Kogel said the positive showing was a direct result of the company’s strategy to expand TV and home entertainment operations while also cutting costs.

Upcoming international co-productions include Tim Story’s “Fantastic Four” with Twentieth Century Fox, Impact Picture’s “The Dark” and “Resident Evil: Apocalypse.”

Bolstered by the strong first half, Constantin raised its forecast for the full year: Company upped expected sales from $222 million to $247 million — an increase of 70% over 2003 — and boosted its operational profit forecast from $7.4 million to $9.9 million (before interest and tax).

Constantin has had a major hit in the second half of the year with Michael Herbig’s sci-fi spoof “(T)Raumschiff Surprise — Periode 1.” Upcoming releases include Adolf Hitler drama “The Downfall” and Walter Salles’ “The Motorcycle Diaries.”

Company’s share price, which rose 78% in the first six months of the year, closed Friday at $8.53, down 10.5%.

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