Boost in TV prod’n pumps Atlantis profit

$1.5 mil in net earnings a 117% increase from last year

TORONTO — Higher margins and more hours of TV programming have nearly doubled Atlantis earnings for the first quarter of 1998.

Net earnings for the first quarter of 1998, ended March 31, were C$2.1 million ($1.5 million), an increase of 117% from last year’s $692,000. On a per share basis, the increase was 80%, to 18¢ a share from 10¢ per share.

Total revenue was $45.4 million, up 105% from $22.1 million in 1997. The TV production and distribution portion of that was $40 million, more than double last year’s figure of $17.7 million. (The difference in net earnings and earnings per share is due to Atlantis having issued stock in 1997.)

The increase reflects the delivery of 42 hours of television, 20 hours more than first quarter 1997. The company’s also enjoying the benefit of higher margins, which come from owning world rights outside the U.S. on shows such as “Gene Roddenberry’s Earth: Final Conflict,” “Cold Squad” and “Psi Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal,” said chief financial officer Kerri Golden.

Broadcasting revenue from advertising and cable subscribers to specialty channels HGTV (Home & Garden Television) Canada and Life Network was $5.3 million, up 25% from $4.2 million in the first quarter of 1997.

Atlantis also announced the addition of 22 one-hour episodes of the television series “Night Man,” based on the Marvel Comics superhero. “Night Man” will be co-produced with Crescent Films in Vancouver, in association with U.S. syndicator Tribune Entertainment. This is “Night Man’s” second season. Its first season was produced in San Diego last year by Atlantis and partners.