Cineworld posts $25 mil pretax profits

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LONDON -- U.K. exhibition group Cineworld Group climbed into the black Tuesday posting its maiden results as a publicly listed company on the stock exchange here.

The company posted pretax profits of 12.4 million pounds ($25 million) in the 12 months ending December 2007, a turnaround from a pretax loss of 7.7 million pounds during 2006.

The exhibition chain, which counts 74 sites with 770 screens across the U.K. and Ireland, said EBITDA rose 13% to 52 million pounds ($104.7 million) in 2007, up from 46 million pounds the previous year.

Cineworld Group CEO Steve Wiener told the markets the leap into profit came on the back of a slew of successful movies at the boxoffice with "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" and "Shrek the Third" all helping.

Wiener also noted that the successful floatation of his exhibition group had buoyed performance.

"It has been a transformational year for Cineworld. We listed our shares on the main market of the London Stock Exchange in May 2007 raising 120 million pounds ($242 million) before expenses for the Group and selling shareholders," Wiener said. "We remain focused on delivering our strategy, as stated at the time of the IPO, with increased revenues and profitability and continue on schedule with our investment plans for new cinema rollouts and refurbishment of our existing estate."

The company also said it has reduced its net debt to 124.4 million pounds ($250.6 million) following the IPO in May 2007 and debt refinancing measures from 314.2 million pounds the previous year.

Wiener said the new year "has started well and attendances have been strong" for the group, "driven by the success of a number of blockbusters."

Overall, Wiener anticipates "an increase in revenue for 2008 as a whole."
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