Zee Q1 net up 31 % even as scrip slides

MUMBAI: The numbers for Zee are in. Net profit and net revenue for the quarter have travelled north by about 31 per cent and 16 per cent respectively.

ZTL's net revenue for the quarter ended 30 June 2003 has gone up by 16.27 per cent to Rs 2.893 billion while the net profit is up by 30.69 per cent to Rs 623 million vis-?-vis the corresponding quarter of the previous fiscal. During the corresponding quarter last year, net profit stood at Rs 476.7 million, while net sales stood at Rs 2.488 billion.

Sequentially, the net sales of the company decreased by 21.5 per cent and the net profit by about 24 per cent as compared to Q4 of last fiscal. During the last quarter of 2003, net profit stood at Rs 820 million, while net sales stood at Rs 3.685 billion.

Revenue breakup

Zee's subscription revenues are up 40.53 per cent at Rs 1,427.7 million, while advertisement revenues are down 13.35 per cent at Rs 1,2112.1 million, compared to Rs 1,399 million during the corresponding quarter last year.

A company statement clarifies that the dip in advertising revenues is because of "softness in local advertising markets in the early part of the quarter due to the Cricket World Cup hangover" as also because of "initial problems in establishing a new rate card, which has now been well accepted in the market." It further says that higher pay revenues from domestic and international markets drove the growth of 18.8 per cent in operating profits to Rs 901 million over the same period last year.

Meanwhile on a standalone basis, ZTL's total revenue has decreased from Rs 1,086.3 million in the June quarter of 2002 to Rs 1,085.9 million in the quarter ended 30 June 2003. Net profit figures for the quarter ended 30 June 2003 stand at Rs 170.7 million, vis-?-vis Rs 166 million for the quarter ended 30 June 2002, a marginal 2.83 per cent increase.

Zee slides on BSE

However, on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) today, Zee slipped 2.75 per cent to Rs 115.10 on profit booking by investors as the company's Q1 results fell below analysts' expectations. The Zee counter recorded a substantial volume of over 1.35 million shares today. Analysts believe the slide was because of net sales slipping below expectations and also because of the counter unwinding in the derivatives segment.

For the current quarter, it would be pertinent to note that the Q1 numbers include financials of Padmalaya Enterprises Private Limited (PEPL), the holding company of Padmalaya Telefilms Limited (PTL), and financials of ETC Networks Limited (ETC) which have been consolidated with Zee. Since neither of these companies was consolidated during the corresponding quarter last year, previous period figures cannot be compared directly.

Also, other sales and services include revenues from PTL. Further, the effect of restructuring Econnect and Zee Interactive Learning Systems does not appear in the current financials as it is pending before the high court.

The Company will be amalgamating three of its wholly owned subsidiaries Patco, Kaveri Entertainment Limited and Elzee Television Limited with retrospective effect from 1 April 2001. Hence the effect of amalgamation has been now given in the financials of the quarter ending 31 March 2003.

Content and Broadcast

Out of the total revenue of Rs 3,044.1 million for the June quarter, the content and broadcast segment accounts for Rs 2.56 billion, which is a rise from Rs 2,186.4 million in the previous year's corresponding quarter.

ZTL's pay bouquet comprises 15 channels including 11 channels of Zee, two channels of Turner (CNN, Cartoon Network), CNBC and Reality TV Channel. Later this year, uplinking of Zee TV and Zee Cinema is scheduled to move from Singapore to India. The company also plans to launch the Direct to Home (DTH) services in the coming months. 

During the quarter, Zee TV showcased some blockbuster titles in its Thursday Premiere initiative. The list of movies included Chura Liya Hai Tumne, Chhal, Escape from Taliban, Ek Choti Si Love Story, Wah Tera Kya Kehna and Jaani Dushman.

Trendz, the new fashion channel from the Zee stable was also launched during the June quarter while Nickelodeon moved out from 1 May 2003.

Zee claims to have snared the number two slot among the female target audience. It is giving the credit for this to its strategy of offering differentiated fare to its viewers as also to a series of synchronized marketing and programming campaigns, which it says helped it to attract new audience.

After taking CNBC into its distribution fold w.e.f. 1 April 2003, Zee has plans for repositioning Zee Music as a young and vibrant interactive music channel by August 2003. State-of-the-art packaging, quality VJs, slick promotions and high quality programming are being peddled as the USP of this launch.

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