Imax seemed to allay investor concerns about its dependence on China, where economic growth is weakening, with a Q1 report this morning that smashed through Wall Street forecasts — helped by stronger than expected domestic results.
“There’s more opportunity in North America than we expected,” CEO Richard Gelfond told analysts this morning. He says that prospects in the U.S. should continue to brighten as AMC Entertainment — Imax’s biggest customer here — prepares to buy Carmike, the No. 4 exhibition chain.
He also cited the “significant opportunity” this year with films including The Jungle Book, Captain America: Civil War, Independence Day: Resurgence, and Star Trek Beyond.
Imax shares opened up 5.5% after the company issued its report, citing strong sales for blockbusters led by Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Deadpool, Zootopia, and Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice.
The large screen technology provider generated $9.5 million in net income, up from $391,000 in the period last year, on revenues of $92.1 million, up 48.1%. That’s way above Wall Street’s expectation for $83.9 million.
Adjusted earnings at 22 cents a shares also handily beat forecasts for 15 cents.
Gross box office sales at Imax theaters improved 64.3% to $272.0 million. The average per screen was $284,400, up 40.2%.
Further sweetening the news for investors, Imax said it added $50 million to its stock repurchase plan, raising the authorization to $200 million.
The company thrives with big budget action and superhero films, but says it’s also enthusiastic about “opportunistic” bookings of family films including Zootopia, Jungle Book, and Finding Dory.
Gelfond says that he’s “in the midst of doing something” with virtual reality and has “some optimism” about what Imax can do, but declined to provide details.
The company also is considering installations of more comfortable seats, although he’s “reluctant to go all the way to recliners” because they remove too much inventory. Tests with what he called “hybrid seats” are “encouraging.”