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‘CSI’ pumps up Alliance Atlantis profits

Co. posted bottom line of $62.5 mil

Alliance Atlantis Communications posted solid upticks for the fourth quarter and year end Friday, thanks to strong growth in the Toronto-based company’s broadcasting business and its stake in the lucrative “CSI” franchise.

AAC posted a bottom line of C$70.9 million ($62.5 million) on the year ended Dec. 31, up 39% from 2004, on revenue of $919 million, up 2.5%. Broadcasting revenue was up 15% to $249.7 million. Company brass noted that ad sales for the year were up 20%.

Entertainment revenue, which is largely made up of AAC’s 50% stake in “CSI,” was up 32% at $301 million.

“The franchise continues to outperform our original revenue and cash flow expectations, and is benefiting from sustained ratings successes and strong sales around the world,” said CEO Phyllis Yaffe, noting that “CSI: Miami” was named the biggest-selling TV series worldwide for 2005 by a report published in mid-February by Informa Telecoms & Media.

The company’s Motion Picture Distribution income trust spin-off was the only area to decline, with revenue down 19% to $368.4 million.

It had a tough year due to a rocky B.O. in Canada, Spain and the UK, where it does business.

MPD recently streamlined management, upping CEO Victor Loewy to chairman and adding CEO duties to prexy Patrice Theroux. The division enjoyed a stronger second half, inking a new output agreement with the Weinstein Company and renewing agreements with New Line Cinema and Focus Features.

For the fourth quarter, earnings at AAC jumped 58% to $21.8 million, on revenue of $74.2 million, up 16%.

Rupert Duchesne, prexy and CEO of Aeroplan, has joined AAC’s board of directors, replacing Pierre DesRoches, who stepped down after a decade.