The struggling 3D technology company hung up a “for sale” sign late today, helping to send its share price up 8.8% in postmarket trading. RealD asked financial advisers Moelis & Co to seek “strategic alternatives,” which typically means a merger or sale. There’s no timetable on the process, and the board “does not intend to disclose further developments” until it figures out what to do, the company says. RealD rejected $600 million unsolicited offer from Jeffrey Smith’s activist hedge fund Starboard Value in November.
The decision to seek a deal “is a logical next step in our ongoing effort to unlock value for RealD shareholders,” CEO Michael Lewis says. “While operational and financial actions we have taken thus far are beginning to show results, we believe that a full review of strategic alternatives will allow us to determine the best path forward.”
The company could use some help as studio and consumer interest in 3D flags. There were five domestic 3D releases in the last three months of 2014 vs eight at the end of 2013. That contributed to a $11.3 million loss in the quarter, up from a $271,000 loss in the same period in 2013, on revenues of $32.6 million, -41.3%. Analysts expected revenues to come in slightly higher, at $33.2 million. The net loss at 23 cents a share was better than the Street’s expectation for a 26-cent loss.
RealD has lost 68% of its market value since it peaked in May 2011. Shares are up 4.5% during the past 12 months, a period when the Standard & Poor’s 500 was up 13.9%. The company has said it will cut operating expenses by $11.5 million in the fiscal year that ends in March 2016.
Lewis says he remains optimistic about this year’s movie slate, which includes 3D releases of Insurgent, The Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Jurassic World, the final Hunger Games and Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. “Demand for 3D remains strong in key markets” including China, the CEO told analysts. At year end, the company had 13,600 domestic screens and 12,900 ones abroad.
Several RealD executives have left during the past year or so as it lost the sense of itself as a growth company, which it had when it went public in 2010.
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