(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — The Sanctuary Group reported strong interim results for the six months to March 31, 2004. Highlights included group turnover from continuing operations increased by 41% to £89.0m (2003: £62.9m) and, on a like for like basis, increased by 31% to £82.2m (2003: £62.9m); group EBITDA from continuing operations increased by 18% to £10.6m (2003: £9.0m); group normalised pre-tax profits from continuing operations rose by 15% to £6.9m (2003: £6.0m);
normalised earnings per share from continuing operations increased by 15.3% to 1.58p (2003: 1.37p) and
Operating cash conversion of EBITDA was 77% against 59% for the equivalent period last year: net senior debt is £47.5m.
Division highlights included:
Worldwide Recorded Product achieved a 17% increase in turnover with highlights including The Strokes second album Room on Fire,' which reached the Number Two position in the UK and Belle & Sebastian's Dear Catastrophe Waitress album which has sold over 250,000 copies. Successive Number One singles in the UK with Kelly and Ozzy Osbourne (Changes) and the Christmas Number One single from Gary Jules (Mad World) were an additional highlight.
Music DVD sales saw a strong release schedule featuring artists including Bob Marley, The Undertones and The Who, whose DVD The Kids are Alright has since reached the UK Number One position.
Sanctuary Urban was created following the acquisition of Music World Entertainment, which signs, develops and works with new and existing urban music artists and which is also in a position to sign artists to Recorded Product, Live Agency, Merchandising and Music Publishing. Recent signings include Mary J Blige, DMX and Eve, alongside existing artists such as Beyoncé and Destiny's Child.
Artist Services turnover rose by 86%, of which some 58% was through organic means with merchandising playing a significant role in this with strong growth in retail and touring products. In addition, a New Technologies division was created to exploit audio and visual rights via new media platforms such as telecoms with mobile phone wallpapers, ringtones and downloads.
Management enjoyed strong growth with key signings including Slipknot, The Soundtrack Of Our Lives, Mary J Blige and Russell Watson, and Sanctuary's worldwide roster of managed artists now totals in excess of 90 acts.
Live Agency continues to benefit from the strong world-wide live touring market with major tours undertaken ranging from Busted, Marilyn Manson and Jamie Cullum through to Franz Ferdinand and Travis. The second half of the year will see acts represented by Sanctuary appearing at every major festival throughout the UK and across Europe.
Acquisitions during the period included the US-based World Online, which enhanced Sanctuary's global merchandising presence and penetration whilst adding artists such as Elton John and Simon & Garfunkel to an existing client list that includes Eminem, Christina Aguilera and Robbie Williams. The Creole Records catalogue was also acquired, which, coupled with the existing RAS and Trojan labels makes Sanctuary the world's largest reggae label. Finally, the company acquired The Erving "J" Group, LLC, Erving Wonder Records, LLC and Chargil, Inc. (net assets of $100,000), a market leader in urban management which brought artists such as Floetry, Jadakris, Angie Stone and Sleepy Brown. The founders, J Erving and Troy Carter have joined Sanctuary Urban as executive vice presidents.
"I am very pleased with our progress and development in the first half of the year," said Andy Taylor, executive chairman of The Sanctuary Group. "Traditionally, our stronger trading has been the second half of the financial year, when many tours and festivals and a greater number of key record releases take place. We are confident that this pattern will be repeated and I look forward to reporting another successful full year in January 2005". –Jane Cohen and Bob Grossweiner