China's Top Private Film Companies Set to Report Strong 2014 Profit Growth

A stock specialist on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange August 5, 2011 - H
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Huayi Brothers, LeTV and Huace are among the big Chinese names due to report results.

Ahead of Alibaba earnings data due on Thursday (Jan. 29), private film companies are lining up a strong set of figures for the fiscal 2014 as China's box office boom continues unabated.

China's box office surged 36 percent to $4.76 billion last year and the number of screens and projects continues to grow, despite slower growth in the overall economy, especially as tech companies aim to thrive in the entertainment business.

Most companies are due to file full year figures in February, but issued pre-earnings announcements in stock exchange filings.

The Shenzhen stock exchange-listed Huayi Brothers said it expects a rise of up to 40 percent in net profits for 2014 to $149 million, and is planning to focus more on tech tie-ups and electronic games.

In November, Huayi Bros, which saw its income from film decline 75 percent in the first nine months of 2014, said it planned to raise $588 million in a private placement plan, and the tech giants Alibaba and Tencent bought a stake. It also signed a strategic agreement with tech giant Alibaba on e-commerce, online entertainment and movie development.

In an earnings pre-announcement, the entertainment company LeTV said it expected net profit to rise by up to 30 percent to $53 million

LeTV also announced this week that it is planning to go into the smartphone business.

Film and TV production and distribution outfit Huace, which partnered in November with Arclight's Asian unit, Easternlight, on the female superhero movie Lights Out, expects net profits to rise by up to 70 percent to $70 million.

The group said that the number of films in production increased, as had the number of TV projects.

Nasdaq-listed Bona is due to hold an extraordinary general meeting on Feb. 13, but earlier this month it announced it was teaming up with Jeff Robinov's Studio 8 for the film adaptation of Ben Fountain's novel Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, which Ang Lee is directing.

Earnings data is also expected from Enlight, which in January announced a $160-million equity fund.

Earlier this month, Alibaba Pictures said it could incur losses of up to $77.41 million for fiscal 2014 because of delays in distribution of some TV shows, falling magazine ad revenues, delays in production and asset-impairment provisions.

In December, Alibaba Pictures posted a $57.2 million loss in the first six months of the year. Earlier this week, Chinese actor-director Vicki Zhao and her husband have bought a $400 million stake in Alibaba Pictures, as the group warned of significant losses because of production delays and falling advertising revenues.