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TORONTO — Toronto-based animation company Nelvana announced healthy results Wednesday for the first quarter of 1998.

Net earnings for the quarter ended March 31 were C$721,000 ($497,000); more than double the $239,000 the company earned for the same period in 1997.

On a per-share basis, the company that produces the “Babar” and “Care Bears” TV series earned 7.59¢ per share, up from 4.14¢ for the first quarter of the prior year.

Total revenues decreased 24% to $4.74 million from $6.20 million. The decrease is the result of a $1.38 million decline in production services revenue caused by a strategic shift away from third-party production and toward proprietary production.

“This strategy, which we began to implement last year, has resulted in lower revenue but higher production margins on an expanded production slate,” said Nelvana’s co-chief executive officer Michael Hirsh in a statement.

The company plans to deliver at least 170 proprietary episodes and one feature film this year, a 46% increase over the 1997 slate. The company signed a two-year deal in January with CBS TV to produce six animated series for the network’s children’s Saturday morning lineup.