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Despite MTM costs, IFE profit up 8% in quarter

NEW YORK — Pat Robertson’s Intl. Family Entertainment Inc. increased net profit 8% to $5.7 million in the fourth quarter as continued growth in the Family Channel’s cash flow offset heavy deficits at its MTM produc-tion and distribution division, it said Monday.

IFE’s sales rose 13% to $104.1 million in the quarter, while operating income rose 21% to $12.2 million.

MTM’s costs

MTM, under Tony Thomopoulos, has been ramping up its production activity, beginning work in 1996 on four new series for network sales or syndication. As a result, the division lost $6.5 million compared with a profit of $909,000 a year earlier.

IFE CEO Tim Robertson said the loss was due to “substantially increased development and overhead costs in addi-tion to the direct costs of production,” adding that the success of the shows would determine whether the invest-ment is recovered.

IFE is able to underwrite the expansion of its production side from the profits of the Family Channel. Its operating income rose 23% to $22.7 million on 12.5% higher revenue of $67.6 million, helped by an expanded subscriber base and higher subscriber fees.

“We expect to continue to finance the development of promising businesses through the financial strength of the Family Channel,” Robertson said.

U.K. net sold

The company’s finances were also helped by the sale of the U.K. Family Channel to Flextech Plc, which helped cut IFE’s losses on its international networks business from $4.5 million to $1.5 million, it said.

The quarterly result brought the full year’s sales to $332 million, up 13%, while operating income rose 46% to $56.1 million and net income almost doubled to $32.1 million. The Family Channel reported operating income of $92 million for the year.

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