German rights trader Splendid Medien improved its profits last year thanks to the performance of its library and video titles.

Gross earnings (EBITDA) rose 43% from $9.9m (DM19.8m) to $14.1m (DM28.3m) in 1999, while operating profits soared from $1.8m (DM3.6m) to $5.1m (DM10.3m). Net profits after tax and the $4.6m (DM9.3m) one-off costs of an initial stockmarket listing, were $0.6m (DM1.2m).

"We have far exceeded the budgeted figures which we announced at the time of our IPO," said Splendid chief financial officer Dietmar Schmitz. He pointed to the earnings from library titles, which appear in the firm's books with a zero value after initial exploitation as the main growth factor last year, and improving video sales following Splendid's sub-distribution deal with Warner Vision Germany.

In the current year Schmitz forecast the first significant impact of last year's investments in Hollywood movies, which amounted to $14.7m (DM29.4m).

Splendid, which controls the Los Angeles-based Initial Entertainment Group (IEG), is co-financing Robert Altman's Dr T And The Women and Martin Scorsese's Gangs Of New York.

As part of a recently signed two-year production deal with Catherine Zeta-Jones, Splendid and IEG are putting up between $35m-$45m of the $60m-$65m budget for Michael Douglas starrer Traffic. IEG will take international rights, while USA Films will handle North American distribution. The project is set to start shooting in April with Steven Soderbergh directing.