The large-screen theater company’s Q4 numbers were good, with help from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but not good enough to satisfy Wall Street. Imax shares fell 7.9% in postmarket trading after it released its report that showed earnings falling short of analysts’ forecasts.
The company’s net income at $22.5 million, was up 7.2% vs the last three months of 2014, on revenues of $119.3 million, up 16.5%. The top line beat expectations tor $115.8 million. But adjusted earnings at 39 cents a share were shy of the 43 cents that investors anticipated.
One culprit appears to be the 25% increase in film rental expenses, to $6.2 million. Weakening overseas currencies versus the dollar reduced global box office by about $17 million.
Gross box office sales were up 27.1% to $288.4 million — with about 54% from abroad. The average screen made $318,600, up 9%, but domestic ones averaged $349,000, up 40%.
CEO Richard Gelfond says his company is “clearly benefiting from a global trend in the film industry to make more big-budget blockbuster movies. And with so many major movie franchises releasing important sequels in 2016 and 2017, we believe we’re extremely well positioned for success in the years ahead.”
He told analysts that 2016 is “off to a great start. … I don’t think anyone would have predicted such a strong start to the 2016 release year.”
Imax raised its guidance for theater installations this year to between 135 and 140, up from a range of 115 to 120. The company has benefited from large orders from China’s Wanda Cinema Line. Gelfond says the companies have begun discussions on accelerated commitments.
The company plans to increase its modest investments in content. “There are a lot of weeks a year when we don’t have the kind of content we want to provide,” Gelfond says. While the company declined to go into detail, execs said it could include live events, original movies or TV fare similar to Imax’s large-screen showing last year of the last two episodes from Season 4 of HBO’s Game of Thrones.