Zee net expected to be in the region of Rs 2 billion

Hours ahead of an announcement by Zee Telefilms regarding its 2000-01 financial results, market analysts were cautiously optimistic about Zee's expected performance for the year.

While Goldman Sachs, which recently subscribed to a private placement by Zee Telefilms at close to Rs 1,000 per share, predicts that Zee's net profit would jump 25 per cent to Rs 2.07 billion, HSBC Securities & Capital Markets Ltd put the figure at Rs 1.8 billion. Regarding total revenues, Goldman expects a 17 per cent rise at Rs 9.3 billion while HSBC prediction is that it will be marginally lower at Rs 9.2 billion.

For the fourth quarter, Goldman sees Zee's net rising to Rs 450 million (a 69.8 per cent rise) while HSBC predicts Q4 growth of Rs 400-410 million. Both Goldman and HSBC predict Q4 revenues to be Rs 2.5 billion, a decline of 2.6 per cent.

HSBC said the income decline was because of a drop in advertising revenues due to the depressed market conditions prevailing as well as a drop in overall market share by a few percentage points.

Zee Telefilms, once the undisputed TV ratings market leader, dropped to third place in mid-2000 following a good run of programmes from Star Plus, and its own botched efforts at responding to the Star offerings. It kept on losing marketshare and its losses in Q4 to Star and Sony were significant enough to translate into a drop in ad income over Q3, analysts point out.

Zee Telefilms has, however, been clawing its way back from April 2001 when it dropped a clutch of shows and introduced a rash of new ones. These have been finding cachet with TV viewers. But do not expect both Star and Sony to sit back watching Zee roar back once again. The battle has just begun.

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