Lionsgate beat Wall Street estimates for the fourth quarter ending March 31, with TV production gains offsetting a drop in the motion picture business, which faced tough comparisons with the year-earlier La La Land quarter.
Total revenue of $1.04 billion came in $30 million ahead of estimates, and fully diluted earnings per share reached 24 cents, versus analysts’ consensus of a loss of a penny. Adjusted operating income of $136 million also trumped estimates of $121.5 million.
The quarterly results were mixed in some respects. Motion picture revenue fell to $424.9 million from $654 million in the year-earlier period. TV production revenue gained a smidgen to $252.7 million, but profits nearly doubled to $23.4 million from $13 million a year ago.
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Thus far in 2018, the film slate has yielded profits but not the kind of breakouts released in 2017, chiefly Wonder, La La Land (a carryover from 2016) and John Wick: Chapter Two. Revenue slid in the unit by 11%. Profits in the motion picture group increased by 36% to $179 million, and Lionsgate said it will achieve ultimate profitability on over 90% of its fiscal 2018 theatrical releases. The exec ranks have also seen a considerable amount of turnover, capped by last week’s news that Nathan Kahane had been named president of the motion picture group.
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Television Production segment revenues of $805 million compared to $843 million in the prior year due to the composition of the television slate. Segment profits increased by 6% to $67 million in the fiscal year. The company has aggressively tapped the demand for streaming content, selling multiple shows to the likes of Netflix, Hulu and YouTube Red and continuing to supply broadcast, cable and syndication fare.
With the Starz acquisition not yet a full fiscal year old, results in the Media Networks unit were reported on a pro forma basis. Revenue in the unit increased for the year by 5% to $1.53 billion, with the company reporting a 101% increase in OTT subscribers during the full fiscal year, along with strong revenues from worldwide digital media licensing arrangements.
Lionsgate has come up repeatedly as a ripe acquisition target (sometimes at its own suggestion) during the current wave of M&A activity. Many investors will be listening closely for any indications of that larger strategy during today’s earnings conference call with Wall Street analysts, which begins at the top of the hour.
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