Nelvana nirvana

Canuck producer's 1st qtr. revs, slate upbeat

TORONTO — Nelvana execs rolled out an ambitious production and development slate as well as positive first-quarter numbers at the company’s annual general meeting Tuesday.

Net earnings for the first quarter of 1999 increased by 23% to C$888,000 ($608,000) or 8¢ a share. Total revenue for the quarter increased by 68% to $7.9 million, compared to $4.7 million for the first quarter a year ago. The jump is a result of a 7% growth in production and distribution revenue, a threefold increase in merchandising revenue, and the addition of $2.4 million from Nelvana’s publishing operations, acquired in August 1998.

The four parts of the business, production, distribution, merchandising and publishing now complement one another, said chief financial officer Sally Moyer Kent. “Each of our operations, the way they’re set up today,” she said, “increases the value of the others.”

In the coming year Nelvana will be focusing on new strategic partnerships, further expanding its market abroad and looking for additional distribution channels, co-CEO Michael Hirsh said.

In addition to the production slate, the firm is seeking distribution opportunities, the expansion of the publishing and merchandising business, Internet and e-commerce, as well as a renewed focus on feature films.

The company has several projects in development, including: “Red Wall” a TV series based on the British series of books by Brian Jacques; “Robin,” a series of TV shorts about a twentysomething single young guy; “Puff the Magic Dragon” feature and TV series; “Heidi” a feature and TV series co-produced with an unidentified German company; and “There’s No Place Like Home,” an animated adult comedy series about the dysfunctional family of comic Margaret Smith.