Shaws in good show with 29pc profit rise

SHAW Brothers, the flagship of film mogul Sir Run Run Shaw, has posted a 29 per cent leap in profits.

This was ahead of market expectations at $228.6 million, compared with $177.5 million for the previous year to March 31.

Analysts had been expecting a slightly more modest, though still very respectable, 19 per cent growth in profits to $211 million.

Directors have proposed a final dividend of 23 cents a share, bringing the total dividend for the year to 30 cents a share.

Earnings per share were 57 cents, against 45 cents previously.

Company secretary Daniel Yuen said this year's profits were buoyed by a number of big movie successes, including Justice, My Foot and Casino Tycoon II.

He also put the healthy rise down to increased dividend payments from 34.5 per cent-owned subsidiaries Television Broadcasts (TVB) and TVE (Holdings).

While Shaws scored some big box-office successes during the year, the company had to an extent suffered from changing tastes among movie-goers.

Chinese movies were generally not doing as well as they used to, said one source at Shaws.

Western blockbusters had become more fashionable, creating a dent in operating profits.

While profits attributable to shareholders leapt 29 per cent, turnover and operating profits remained pretty much static at $237 million and $104 million, respectively.

Even so, Shaws was yesterday predicting even bigger profits for the current financial year, boosted by the group's property earnings.

The company is in the midst of converting its Golden Cinema in Shamshuipo into a mixed residential and commercial building.

The sale of residential units is expected by analysts to generate about $78 million in pre-tax profits this year.

However, the retail portion of the redevelopment is not expected to provide any rental income until next year.