On an ordinary day you’d expect Lionsgate shares to rebound nicely today. Stifel’s Benjamin Mogil predicted “a sigh of relief” after the studio’s latest release, Divergent, pretty much met analysts’ recently lowered expectations by generating $56M at domestic box offices over the weekend. But company shares are up 2.7% in mid-day trading, leaving Lionsgate down 14% since March 12, while exhibition stocks are off today. Investors are responding to the anemic overall box office results — as well as a report showing weak growth in U.S. manufacturing, and growing predictions that Russia could fall into a recession following Western economic sanctions its annexation of Crimea. The Dow Jones U.S. Media Index is down about 1%. Too bad for Lionsgate: Wells Fargo Securities’ Marci Ryvicker says the film beat her $50M target and “more than likely sets up another franchise for the studio.” MKM Partners’ Eric Handler thought Divergent would hit $64M but notes that “solid word of mouth … could help sustain the film’s legs in the coming weeks.”
He’s less sanguine about overall box office: Muppets Most Wanted generated $16.5M, below his $27M projection, and Mr. Peabody & Sherman‘s $11.7M missed his $13M forecast. Others seem to share his disappointment Carmike shares are -3.3%, AMC Entertainment’s -3.3%, Cinemark’s -1.9% and Regal’s -1.6%. Although the Q1 domestic box office should end up at least +8.5% vs last year’s Q2, Handler forecasts a 4.5% decline in Q2 in comparison to the unusually strong results from last May and June.
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