Carmike Cinemas benefits from Hollywood’s summer blockbusters

Carmike Cinemas is headquartered in downtown Columbus.
Carmike Cinemas is headquartered in downtown Columbus. L-E file photo

Hollywood’s summer blockbusters helped put more moviegoers in the seats at Carmike Cinemas, with the company reporting Monday that its third-quarter loss narrowed to $1.4 million, improved from $6.3 million in the same period a year ago.

Carmike, headquartered in downtown Columbus, did see total revenues surge to $209.7 million in the July-September quarter, up from $180.2 million a year ago. The third-quarter loss equaled 6 cents per share, better than the 26 cents per share a year ago.

Major movie releases that helped boost those numbers included “Finding Dory,” “Captain America: Civil War,” “The Secret Life of Pets,” “The Jungle Book,” “Suicide Squad,” “Jason Bourne” and “Star Trek and Beyond.”

“Carmike’s third-quarter operating revenue growth reflects the ongoing success of our theater-level initiatives and strategies from both theater acquisitions and organic growth, combined with the support of a favorable U.S. box office environment,” David Passman, Carmike’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Specifically, he noted attendance growth of 13 percent, operating revenues rising 16 percent, operating income surging 187 percent, theater-level cash flow climbing 49 percent, and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) jumping 63 percent.

“The continued progress of our food and beverage initiatives is reflected by the 7 percent increase in concessions and other spending per patron to a record third-quarter level of $4.85, marking 27 consecutive reporting periods of year-over-year concessions and other per patron spending growth while maintaining healthy margins,” Passman said.

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The only mention made of Carmike’s pending acquisition by Leawood, Kan.-based AMC Entertainment Holdings was the decision by Carmike to not hold an analyst conference call after the earnings report was released following the close of Monday’s NASDAQ exchange, upon which its shares are traded. Carmike has scheduled a shareholder vote next week on the $1.2 billion purchase by AMC, a move that has been postponed three times previously.

Monday’s earnings data show Carmike Cinemas adding three theaters since the end of September 2015, with it having an average of 272 in the quarter. Its screen count is now at 2,923 in 41 states. Average attendance per screen at the end of the quarter was 5,898, up from 5,320 a year ago. Total attendance stands at 17.3 million, improved from 15.3 million in the same quarter of last year.

Average admission price charged per customer is now at $7.30, up slightly, while average concessions sales per patron is $4.85, an increase from $4.55. Concessions include the popcorn, soft drinks and candy sold by the theater chain, as well as sales from its enhanced food and beverage service, which includes alcohol in some theaters.

“Looking at our balance sheet, we continue to operate our business on solid financial footing with a healthy balance sheet that includes cash and cash equivalents (on hand) totaling $95.4 million at Sept. 30, 2016,” Carmike Chief Financial Officer Richard Hare said. Total debt is now $462.4 million, up from $454.7 million at the end of December 2015. Net debt is $367.1 million, up from $352.2 million.

Through the first nine months of this year, Carmike reported a net loss of $800,000 or 3 cents per share, improved from a loss of $7.3 million or 30 cents per share in the January-September period a year ago. Total revenue has increased over that time from $583.7 million to $620.6 million.

In trading on the NASDAQ exchange Monday, Carmike shares increased 40 cents, or 1.2 percent, to close at $32.95 on the day. That’s near the $33 per share that AMC has offered to purchase Carmike, either in cash or shares of AMC stock. The 52-week trading range for Carmike stock is $18.52 to $33.34 per share.