Imax sales slumped last quarter but beat Wall Street estimates and it swung to a loss. The stock popped in late trading as the company highlighted a strong box office in China and Japan, upbeat outlook and continued sales of its big-screen systems despite the pandemic.
Revenue of $56 million was down from $124 million the year before. Imax swung to a net loss of $21million or $0.36 a share, from a profit of $18 million or $0.29. (The net loss was $12 million adjusted for one-time charges).
It reported positive free cash flow for the first time since the first quarter of 2002. As theaters struggled, it said it received $1.9 million of Covid-19 government relief benefits under the CARES Act.
Shares closed lower Thursday in a down market but popped later, up about 3%.
In Asia, Imax has reached pre-pandemic levels on releases including Demon Slayer, Detective Chinatown 3 and Shock Wave 2 despite capacity limitations and a lack of Hollywood content. The strong box office showing indicates pent-up demand among global moviegoers, a good sign as theaters around the world reopen. New York City, a key market, will open theaters tomorrow for the first time in almost year.
With vaccines rolling out and Covid cases falling, Imax is set to benefit from a pipeline of big screen-friendly Hollywood blockbusters, in particular in the second half.
Imax said it installed 71 Imax Experience systems and signed agreements for 65 for the full year, including 33 systems and 11 signed agreements in the fourth quarter — ending the year with 527 systems in backlog.
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