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Balaji Telefilms plunges into red in FY14; film biz hurts

MUMBAI: Content provider Balaji Telefilms Ltd (BTL) slipped into net loss in the fiscal ended 31 March 2014 due to its motion pictures business.

The company reported a net loss of Rs 17.19 crore (Rs 171.9 million) as against a net profit of Rs 14.58 crore (Rs 145.8 million) in the earlier year.

BTL’s top line more than doubled to Rs 407.46 crore (Rs 4.07 billion).

Despite higher earnings from film releases and commissioning of shows, the company’s operating efficiency was severely damaged. Film revenue stood at Rs 271.34 crore (Rs 2.71 billion) during FY14 compared to Rs 44.63 crore (Rs 446.3 million) a year ago.

However, BTL’s operating loss from film business stood at Rs 26.71 crore (Rs 267.1 million) in the fiscal as against an operating profit of Rs 2.00 crore (Rs 20 million) registered in the previous fiscal.

Higher production costs and slower rate of television programme commissioning took its toll on the company’s performance.

BTL posted an operating loss (EBITDA) of Rs 27.80 crore (Rs 278.0 million) for FY2014 vis-à-vis an operating profit of Rs 1.39 lakh (Rs 0.14 million) in the corresponding previous fiscal.

In the fourth quarter of FY2014, BTL had released films such as ‘Shaadi Ke Side Effects’, ‘Main Tera Hero’ and ‘Ragini MMS 2’. As such, the company incurred higher marketing and distribution expenses of Rs 76.17 crore (Rs 761.7 million) compared to Rs 12.57 crore (Rs 125.7 million) reported in the previous fiscal.

Besides, lack of big-budget movies and commissioning of new shows aided in pulling down production costs as well as telecast fees to Rs 226.31 crore (Rs 2.26 billion), down 4.8 per cent, year on year.

BTL has been witnessing a drop in per-hour average realisation and delay in commissioning of two serials for EPIC Channel, which is yet to be launched.

As far as the fourth quarter to March 2014 is concerned, BTL’s financial showing has taken a different look.

The company registered 24.70 per cent increase in its consolidated revenue to Rs 39.61 crore (Rs 396.1 million), compared to Rs 37.80 crore (Rs 378.0 million) a year ago.

During the fiscal fourth-quarter, BTL generated Rs 39.58 crore (Rs 395.8 million) from commissioning of programmes, while nil revenues were collected from its film business.

The segment clocked operating profit of Rs 17.74 crore (Rs 177.4 million), compared to operating profit of Rs 8.23 crore (Rs 82.3 million) a year ago.

Successful running of previously launched shows came to the company’s rescue. Generally, new show launches achieve stability after a while.

‘Jodha Akbar’, the epic on Moghul emperor Akbar produced by BTL for Zee TV, is ranked No 2 across all Hindi GECs. Launched on Star Plus on 3 December 2013, ‘Yeh Hain Mohabbatein’ is another show created by BTL.