Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., the independent film studio behind “The Hunger Games,” reported a quarterly profit that beat analysts’ estimates on ticket sales for the final “Twilight” and improved international results.
Net income was $37.8 million, or 27 cents a share, in the third quarter ended Dec. 31, versus a loss of $1.4 million, or 1 cent, a year earlier, the company said yesterday in a statement. Sales more than doubled to $743.6 million, beating estimates of $719.5 million. Profit exceeded the 24-cent average of nine analysts’ projections compiled by Bloomberg.
The results highlight the benefits of Lionsgate’s January 2012 deal to acquire Summit Entertainment, which brought the “Twilight” series and “Sinister.” “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2” generated $828.3 million in worldwide ticket sales, according to researcher Box Office Mojo. The film will be released on home video, including DVD and on-demand television, on March 2.
Combining with Summit has boosted profit margins more than Lions Gate expected, Chief Executive Officer Jon Feltheimer said today on a conference call. The company will use free cash flow to continue de-levering, he said. The company is lining up promotional partners for “Divergent,” which starts filming in April. The books are registering sales comparable to “The Hunger Games” and “Twilight” at similar stages, he said.
“We’ll be rolling out a series of announcements in the coming months,” Feltheimer said.
The results were helped by home-video sales of “The Hunger Games” and better terms from distributors who acquired rights to release “Twilight” outside of the U.S. and Canada, the company said.
Other box-office winners during the quarter included Summit’s “Sinister,” made for $3 million. It took in $77.7 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo.
Lions Gate bought Summit for $412.5 million, some of it financed with the target company’s cash, plus assumed debt. The company named Summit’s two top executives, Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger, to lead its film division.
Lions Gate, based in Vancouver and run from Santa Monica, California, slipped 1.7 percent to $19.40 at 1:10 p.m. in New York. Before today’s trading, the shares had advanced 20 percent this year.
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