Pinewood Shepperton first-half profit up

But SAG dispute could affect full-year results

LONDON -- U.K. studio facilities behemoth Pinewood Shepperton posted solid interims despite the global economic downturn, but warned that the ongoing SAG dispute could have a major impact on fortunes for the group in the months to come.

Pinewood Shepperton, listed on the stock exchange here, told markets that its pretax profits rose to 3.8 million pounds ($7 million) for the six months ending June 30, up from 2.9 million pounds from the same period in 2007.

Revenue at the group, which owns and operates both the Pinewood and Shepperton studio complexes on the outskirts of London as well as Teddington Studios, hit 21.7 million pounds ($39.8 million) in the first half, up from 18.3 million pounds in 2007.

The uptick means shareholders enjoy a 5% increase in the group's interim dividend and can rest easy knowing that the board secured a five-year banking facility of  70 million pounds ($128 million) in August to fuel its expansion ambitions.

Operating profits hit 4.8 million pounds ($8.8 million) in the first half, up from 3.6 million pounds this time last year.

"The past six months have continued to demonstrate Pinewood Shepperton's ability to diversify and deliver consistent revenue streams even in times of wider economic uncertainty," Pinewood Shepperton chief executive Ivan Dunleavy said.

The board also took the opportunity to warn that the SAG dispute is likely to have an impact. But they remained hopeful that a possible change in the national board after SAG's September election will lead to a resolution.

Revenue from filmmaking reached 13 million pounds ($23.8 million), up from 10.8 million pounds in 2007.

The results were boosted by the continuation of production of several major films carried over from 2007. Titles shooting in the period include Sony's "Quantum of Solace" and Universal's "The Wolfman."

Television revenue also fared well, collecting 5.8 million pounds ($10.6 million) in the six months of this year, up from 4.7 million pounds in 2007.

Major television productions before the cameras included "Gladiators," "Little Dorrit" and "King Lear."
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