All exhibition chains struggled with the weak box office in early 2012. But Carmike suffered from a triple whammy in Q1 as it recorded $12.3M in interest expenses — due in part to the additional leverage to finance its acquisition of Rave’s theaters at the end of 2012 — as well as about $3.1M in charges to cancel leases for underperforming theaters. The company ended up with a net loss of $5.8M, down from a $3.2M profit in the period a year ago, on revenues of $130.1M, +0.1%. The top line was right about where analysts expected. But the net loss of 33 cents a share contrasts with forecasts for a seven cent profit. Revenues from admissions fell 1.4% to $81.5M as the rise in the price of the average ticket — to $7.02 from $6.68 — was offset by the 4.6% drop in attendance to 11.6M. Even so, concessions revenues rose 2.7% to $48.6M, as the average concessions sales per patron rose 27 cents to $4.18. The company says that the increase reflects the success of its experiments and efforts to promote high-margin goodies. “Last year’s first quarter box office benefited from a strong and well-balanced film slate, creating a challenging year-over-year comparison for the industry,” CEO Dave Passman says. But Q2 “is off to a strong start,” he adds, and “we expect the positive momentum to continue throughout the summer as the upcoming release calendar features a strong movie slate with several highly anticipated titles.”
This is becoming a familiar theme in exhibition, although Carmike‘s Q4 numbers are complicated by its acquisition in November of 251 screens from Rave Reviews Cinemas as well as an $86.5M year-end tax benefit. With those factored …
Carmike shares are up more than 9% in early trading after it announced its agreement to pay $19M — and assume $100.4M in lease obligations — for Rave’s 16 theaters with 251 screens in the south and mid-west. Carmike signaled its interest in acquisitions early this year when it launched a refinancing effort that included a $56.5M stock sale and $210M sale of senior secured notes. CEO David Passman calls today’s deal a “key, opportunistic development for Carmike as we recently embarked on a corporate mission of expanding our footprint to 300 theatres and 3,000 screens through attractive acquisitions.” Rave is controlled by private equity firm BV Investment Partners. The companies expect the deal to close by year end.
Here’s the release:
LAS VEGAS/CINEMACON – April 24, 2012 – Fandango, the nation’s leading moviegoer destination, has extended its multi-year strategic agreement with founding partner Carmike Cinemas, Inc. (NASDAQ: CKEC), the nation’s premier “home town” motion picture exhibitor with 2,254 screens, just in time for the summer moviegoing season.
B. Riley analyst Eric Wold says it will in a major look-forward report today for the film business. He predicts 4% growth in box office sales this year — the result of a 1% uptick in attendance and a 3% rise in average ticket prices. What makes him so confident, especially following the 3.9% drop in 2011? Wold says that more consumers would have gone to the movies last year if Hollywood hadn’t released so many dogs. He dismisses another theory: that tickets are becoming too expensive. If that were the case, he says, then we would have seen soft numbers throughout the year — instead box offices set records in Q2 and Q3. He’s also optimistic about 2012 because there’ll be at least 25 sequels of films that collectively generated $3.64B at box offices. Sequels typically deliver about 6% less in ticket sales than the originals. But even if 2012′s films slip 20%, consumers will spend 12% more than they did for sequels in 2010. That could “set up 2012 for a potential rebound,” Wold says. He’s also encouraged to see that there’ll be at least 40 wide-release 3D
The weak box office sales this past weekend made it clear that the year is going to end with a whimper. Regal’s shares fell 8.7%, making it the biggest loser among the theater chains followed by Carmike (-4.9%) and Cinemark (-2.9%). Companies closely aligned with theaters also suffered: 3-D technology provider RealD fell 6.2% while ad seller National Cinemedia was off nearly 3%. “The hoped-for 4Q11 box office pop is slipping away,” says Lazard Capital Markets analyst Barton Crockett. Ticket sales so far this quarter are down about 6.9% vs the same period last year, he says. He predicts the quarter will end down 1.9% following an expected surge of Christmas weekend turnout for Paramount’s Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol as it goes into wide release, Warner Bros’ Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows, Sony’s The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo, Fox’s Alvin And The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, and Paramount’s The Adventures Of Tintin.