Look, when you’re the target of an attempted hostile takeover by the likes of Carl Icahn, you’ll pull out all the stops to defend yourself. This is precisely what Lionsgate management is doing. Its latest defense, now that a Canadian regulatory commission won’t let it use a poison pill (LG is appealing), is to show that its earnings were better than expected. That news could have waited until June 1 when it is scheduled to report its Fiscal 2010 full year and Q-4 results as well as hold its analyst and investor conference calls the day after. Instead, early this morning before the markets opened, the studio issued a news release announcing that “preliminary” 2010 results for full-year results are better than it indicated in February.
The studio said adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) will exceed $115 million, more than 50% better than the $75 million the company had expected previously. Lionsgate attributed the improved earnings to its television biz, and revenues from its record library, and higher home entertainment revenues. So the share price jumped up to around $7, which is what Icahn is offering to pay shareholders for their stock. Today’s announcement was aimed at impressing shareholders before tomorrow when Icahn’s tender offer is set to expire.
Icahn owns almost 19% of Lionsgate, and he has been very critical of its management. Ergo this morning’s news from the studio. “These results underscore the strengthening financial performance that the Company has been reporting throughout the fiscal year. Our preliminary fiscal 2010 financial results show that our strong product pipelines, coupled with the continued recovery of the retail and advertising markets, are helping our home entertainment and television businesses to outperform our previous expectations,” said Lionsgate Co-Chairman/CEO Jon Feltheimer.
“The continued growth of VOD and other on demand revenue streams has also been a recent catalyst for strong revenue and EBITDA performance. As these trends continue, we are targeting another strong EBITDA performance as well as a return to positive free cash flow in fiscal 2011. We remain on track to achieve the significant free cash flow generation for fiscal 2013 to 2015 of $100 million to $125 million annually (before contributions from TV Guide Network, EPIX and FEARnet) as outlined in our most recent investor presentation.”