Lionsgate’s Cost Controls Help It Beat Year End Profit Estimates As Sales Slide

The independent studio released fewer films at the end of 2014 than it did in the same three month period in 2013 – and analysts expected more from the domestic opening of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1. Still, the results from Lionsgate’s fiscal Q3 were OK. It reported net income of $98.2 million, +10.6%, on revenues of $751.3 million, -10.6%. The revenue number fell short of Wall Street’s expectation for $783.8 million. But earnings at 65 cents a share were a penny ahead of predictions.

The top line shortfall appears to have rattled investors. Lionsgate shares are bouncing around in negative territory in post-market trading – at one point down about 6%.

“Our strong financial results in the quarter were driven by growing margins across our businesses,” says CEO Jon Feltheimer. The television unit “continues to emerge as a leading supplier of premium scripted content,” while films “achieved strong profitability.” In addition, digital initiatives are “beginning to deliver incremental revenue and profits, and we expect their contributions to continue to grow.”

The Motion Picture unit only had two wide releases – Mockingjay and John Wick – compared with 2013 that had The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, A Madea Christmas, Ender’s Game, and Escape Plan. Not surprisingly, revenues fell 22% to $590.1 million including $186.4 million from theatrical. Home entertainment was down 8.8% to $183.1 million.

But Television Production stood out with a 95.9% increase in revenues to $161.2 million. Lionsgate attributes that in part to its record domestic delivery of 74 television series episodes, equal to 58.5 hours. The lineup included Anger Management, Orange Is the New Black, Nashville, Ascension, Mad Men, and Manhattan.

Lionsgate owns 31.2% of EPIX, where net profits increased 56% to $33.6 million on revenues of $101.1 million, +12.7%.

It also owns 50% of POP – formerly known as the TV Guide Network, or TVGN – which had a net loss of $14.6 million , an improvement from last year’s $20.8 million loss, on revenues of $20.5 million, +2.2%. The loss figure includes $12.5 million of debt. Without that, the loss comes to $2 million, an improvement from $8.3 million.

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