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EMI EXPECTS 9% FIRST-HALF GAIN

Group Earnings for Full Year on Track to Meet Analyst Expectations
One month ahead of its scheduled Nov. 16 first-half earnings report, EMI Group PLC said today that it expects to report “adjusted PBT” growth (growth in profit before taxes, amortization and exceptional items) of around 9% for the six months ended Sept. 30. The company also says it expects to deliver full-year results in line with analyst expectations.

EMI said in a regular trading update that its recorded-music division gained marketshare in the first half and expects to report revenue growth of about 4.5%. According to the company statement, “Revenue growth has been delivered against a backdrop of a weaker-than-expected recorded music market and reflects successful releases from a range of EMI Music artists including Coldplay, Gorillaz, The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Ketih Urban and KT Tunstall.” Increased revenues and cost savings associated with the company’s 2004 restructuring plan are expected to offset higher marketing costs (due to more releases), accounting changes and inflation of fixed costs. Operating margin is expected to show improvement of about 1%.

EMI Music Publishing is expected to report revenue growth of about 5.5% for the first half ended Sept. 30, led by particular strength in sync licensing. Publishing operating profit is expected to be flat for the period, however, due to accounting changes and “costs being more first-half weighted this year.”

Both EMI divisions report “very strong” year-over-year growth in digital revenues.

EMI emerges from its first half with significantly more debt, about £1.06 billion, or £60m more than the same period a year earlier. The company attributes the rise in debt to higher working-capital outflow (reflecting higher September sales), with net finance costs of around £47m being dude to higher interest rates, lower amortization of “swap gains” (whatever those are), and just plain higher debt.