Entertainment and spirits company
, powered by record revenue in its music division, posted a narrower-than-expected loss in its third fiscal quarter.
Seagram shares slipped in morning trading Thursday, falling 1/8 to 52 3/16. (Seagram finished Thursday regular trading up 1 1/8, or 2%, at 53 7/16.)
The company, which owns
, did see its losses widen. Seagram reported a net loss of $265 million, or 61 cents per share, vs. $199 million, or 51 cents a share, a year ago. Analysts surveyed by
First Call/Thompson Financial
had projected a loss of 66 cents.
Seagram has been plagued by rumors that it is intent on selling its entertainment divisions, rumors the company has publicly denied.
"We remain focused on building on the momentum in all of our businesses to produce strong quarterly results, and I am confident that we will meet our growth targets for this fiscal year,'' said Chief Executive Edgar Bronfman Jr. in a statement.
The company posted an operating loss of $1 million compared with an operating loss of $163 million a year ago.
Strong sales of music in Europe and North America contributed to record revenues at its
Universal Music Group
, which is the world's largest recorded music company, and cost savings achieved from the integration of
strengthened the group's earnings results.
Its filmed entertainment business, whose performance has lagged in recent years, narrowed its losses in the quarter, mostly as a result of the strong performances of
The Green Mile
in theaters. Filmed entertainment posted a loss of $8 million, vs. $97 million a year ago.
Universal Studios is set to release the first potential big blockbuster of the summer movie season, traditionally Hollywood's largest source of box office receipts: the historical action drama
, a co-production with privately held
that reportedly cost more than $100 million to produce. That film opens Friday. Universal's other main summer entry is the comedy
The Nutty Professor II
, a sequel to the company's 1996 Oscar-winning hit
The Nutty Professor
Seagram's beverages unit, one of its most reliable sources of growth, saw earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or EBITDA, increase 8% to $108 million.