ER saw operating profit increase by 36 per cent to £10.2 million for the year ending December 31st 2006. Although the group's revenue declined marginally by three per cent to £29.7 million, adjusted EBITDA grew 13 per cent to £15.5 million and unadjusted EBITDA by 11 per cent to £14.8 million.
Chairman Rod Bransgrove also added that there has been continued increase in ER's gross profit margin, up from 46 per cent in 2005 to 57 per cent in 2006, as a result of a greater proportion of the firm's revenue being derived from wholly owned brands.
Highlights of the year for the company included Five's commissioning of Rupert Bear: Follow the Magic, new episodes of Postman Pat and The Basil Brush Show for the BBC, the acquisition of the worldwide distribution rights (excluding certain territories) of Finley the Fire Engine, a multi-year distribution agreement with Mattel for the entire Barbie film franchise in the UK/Eire and TV rights on a multi-territory basis, plus the acquisition of Classic Media.
"ER is firmly established as a global leader in children's and family media possessing one of the largest digital portfolios of its kind with a library of 8,700 episodes of children's and family programming, characters and brands which we continue to exploit round the world," said Bransgrove.
"We are committed to continued expansion and anticipate significant progress in the coming year. We look forward to 2007 with confidence."
Meanwhile, Postman Pat is to premiere on US network TV this autumn as part of 'Qubo', the multi-platform TV network for children, currently airing on NBC, Telemundo and ION Television. Broadcast in both English and Spanish, Qubo reaches over 100 million American homes.
Production has also begun on 20x30-minute new episodes of animated comedy series 3-2-1 Penguins. The show is rated number one on Qubo, with the new series scheduled to air in the autumn.
3-2-1 Penguins will be presented to international buyers by ER's sales team at MIPTV in April.