Ubisoft ebullient after 22.5 percent annual earnings rise

Tom Clancy franchises boost earnings at the French publisher, which reports a half-billion dollars in revenue.

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While the once-mighty Eidos warned of anemic earnings, across the English Channel another publisher was popping Veuve Clicquot after its annual financial report. Today Ubisoft reported an impressive 22.5 percent increase in sales, which totaled some 432 million euros ($508 million) for its 2003-2004 financial year.

Ubisoft's EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) was also up, rising 16 percent to 130 million euros ($111 million). The year also saw the company's debt load shrink 30 percent to 119 million euros ($144 million). For the year, its pro forma profit--that is, profit before expenses, like downs, goodwill amortization, depreciation, and other expenses--was 20 million euros ($24 million), with a pro forma net income of nine million euros ($11 million).

Ubisoft also released a downright cocky outlook for its 2004-2005 financial year. It predicted that its profit and net income would double to a respective 38 to 43 million euros ($46 to $52 million) and 17 to 21 million euros ($21 to $25 million), respectively.

Ubisoft's confidence in steadily expanding income can be summed up in two words: Tom Clancy. Three franchises inspired by the ever-popular author--Splinter Cell, Ghost Recon, and Rainbow Six--have been big hits for the publisher. All debuted in the top 10 best-sellers list, and sequels in each series are already far along in development. Prince of Persia also did well for Ubisoft last year, although sales of Beyond Good & Evil and XIII proved far lower than expected.

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