AMC Entertainment Holdings reported a fourth-quarter loss of $276.4 million, but it exceeded Wall Street’s revenue estimates thanks to record ticket, food and beverage sales.
The exhibitor chain reported a 53% surge in total revenues to $1.42 billion — growth that was fueled by the AMC’s acquisitions of the Odeon Cinemas Group, Carmike Cinemas and Nordic Cinema Group.
Earnings, adjusted for pretax expenses and costs related to mergers and acquisitions, came $14.1 million, or 30 cents a share — exceeding analysts’ estimated earnings of 27 cents.
The stock rose modestly, up 1% to $15.19 this morning following the earnings report but was down fractionally by midday.
AMC Chief Financial Officer Craig Ramsey said the industry shrugged off a sluggish October to generate its second-biggest fourth-quarter box office ever. Star Wars: The Last Jedi made for the highest-grossing December of all time, and popular November films Thor: Ragnarok and Justice League also contributed to the strong holiday quarter.
North American theatrical attendance likely will rebound in 2018, if historical behavior over the past 15 years is any guide, said AMC CEO Adam Aron. The domestic box office has shown a pattern of two strong years, followed by a down year, he said.
The first quarter is off to a strong start — thanks in part to the box office bonanza of Marvel’s Black Panther.
“We shattered records all over the place,” Aron told analysts on this morning’s investor call. “We had one AMC theater in Atlanta that showed Black Panther 83 times on opening weekend.”
The exhibitor saw fourth-quarter admissions rise 52% to $897.1 million, and concession sales up 47% to $415.3 million — growth that’s primarily due to AMC’s acquisitions.
In the U.S., attendance fell 3% to 61.9 million in the quarter, but the average ticket price rose 6% to $9.92, as more moviegoers sought out Imax and premium large-format theaters.
AMC’s net quarterly results were impacted by the new U.S. tax laws, which included $310 million in expenses.
Aron was asked to address the impact of MoviePass, which is promoting a $7.95 monthly deal to new subscribers. The CEO said several hundred thousand subscribers showed up at AMC’s theaters — on average, 2.7 times each. He noted that MoviePass paid AMC an average ticket price of $11 (or about $32 per subscriber), for which it’s charging substantially less.
“I don’t see how those numbers add up,” Aron said.