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EMI Says Quarterly Earnings Up

Times Staff Writer

The rock band Coldplay helped increase sales and operating profit for EMI Group in the quarter ended in June compared with the same period last year, the British music company said.

The English band’s latest album, “X&Y;,” hit No. 1 on charts around the world in June, with 1.5 million copies sold in the United States to date, according to Nielsen SoundScan. EMI also scored with “Demon Days,” the latest album by the cartoon rock band Gorillaz.

Coldplay and Gorillaz had caused EMI headaches in early February with delays in the release of their albums. Executives had said the delays would lower the company’s profit for the fiscal year.

EMI, based in London, was not required by British securities regulations to release figures during the company’s annual meeting this week. Those numbers will be made public in the fall.

But Chairman Eric Nicoli said revenue and operating profit had improved at the company’s recorded music and publishing divisions.

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He also said digital downloads since March represented 4.8% of total revenue, more than double the same period last year.

Analysts said the news was welcome but not surprising. Investment bank Bear Stearns released a report forecasting 2% growth in recorded music in the current fiscal year.

The company said upcoming EMI releases -- including albums from Robbie Williams, the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney -- would support analysts’ expectations that EMI’s stock would outperform the British stock market.

Last year EMI dropped low-selling artists from its rolls and restructured the company’s labels as recorded music sales declined.

But EMI’s chairman said he saw a future in digital downloads.

“We expect consumer uptake of legitimate digital music to be the key industry growth driver in the coming years,” Nicoli said.


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