Following its daring investments in plush seating and concession upgrades, AMC Entertainment may end up being one of the few exhibition companies that doesn’t have to explain away its Q4 performance. Despite the soft box office that contributed to a 4.3% drop in attendance, the No. 2 theater chain easily beat Wall Street’s profit expectations. The numbers are a little funky due to a $265.6 million tax benefit recorded in 2013. With that included, net income falls to $29.8 million from $279.6 million on revenues of $712.2 million, down 0.1%. The top line is a hair above the consensus forecast. But earnings at 30 cents per share were well above predictions for 20 cents.
“Being a leader in guest experience is fun, and it works for us, our customers and our shareholders,” says CEO Gerry Lopez. He adds that “2014 was a record-setting year for AMC, notwithstanding a challenging box office. We achieved those records by staying true to our strategic initiatives to redefine the guest experience.”
Admission revenue fell 4.5% to $460.3 million in Q4. With fewer 3D films in the mix, the average ticket outlay dropped by 3 cents vs the last three months of 2013 to $9.54. But Lopez says that in the 53 theaters where AMC reduced the total number of seats to accommodate comfy recliners, admission revenue per screen increased 13.8%.
Meanwhile, concession sales increased 8.8% to $215.3 million as the average outlay per patron soared 13.5% to $4.46. AMC says that’s the highest it’s been in the company’s history.