Carmike shows $91.6 million quarterly profit with an assist from deferred tax asset

The picture continued to brighten for Carmike Cinemas, with the movie-theater chain reporting Thursday a profit of $91.6 million in the fourth quarter and $96.3 million in full-year 2012.

Both of those numbers were dramatically different from a year ago when the Columbus-based company posted an October-December profit of $1.7 million and a loss of $7.7 million for all of 2011.

The turnaround included the company’s use of an $86.5 million deferred tax asset — accrued through past financial losses — to offset its 2012 income tax bite.

Still, even with the accounting maneuver, David Passman, Carmike’s president and chief executive officer, said he was pleased with the results. That included a “strong” finish to the year with attendance gains, rising ticket and concession sales from moviegoers, and the November buyout of Rave Reviews Cinemas.

The latter move, which added 251 screens to the company’s existing portfolio of more than 2,000 screens, gave cash flow a shot in the arm, the company noted. Carmike is making a major push through acquisitions and new complexes to reach 300 theaters and 3,000 screens. As of Dec. 31, it operated 249 movie houses, with 2,502 screens, in 35 states.

“We will continue to actively target acquisitions and attractive build-to-suit opportunities,” Passman said in a statement. “The company has a pipeline of new theater locations under construction, as well as a number in the planning or advanced negotiating stage.”

That pipeline includes a recently opened theater in Decatur, Ala., and others on the way in Sandestin, Fla., Champaign, Ill., Winchester, Va., Hickory, N.C., Colorado Springs, Colo., Opelika, Ala., Montgomery, Ala., Oak Grove, Ky., and El Paso, Texas.

On the revenue side of the earnings report, Passman pointed out ticket revenue was up nearly 12 percent for the year, while there also has been a healthy increase in concession sales — popcorn, candy and soft drinks — along with “other” revenue such as 3-D glasses rentals for the growing number of 3-D movies being shown on the chain’s digital screens.

“In Q4, our concessions/other spending per cap approached the $4 mark, thereby extending our streak of year-over-year per patron spending gains to 12 successive quarters,” the CEO said. “We will continue to deploy our most successful concessions promotions, actively experiment with a wide array of creative new programs and also work to keep the positive theater-level momentum going strong in the year ahead.”

The average admission charged per person grew 34 cents to $7.10 in the fourth quarter, while average concessions/other sales was up 22 cents per patron to $3.99.

More than 13 million movie fans filled the seats of Carmike theaters in the October-December period, up from 11.4 million in the same period a year ago. For all of 2012, attendance was 50.3 million, up from just over 47 million in 2011.

The string of numbers added up to total revenue of $146.6 million in the fourth quarter and $539.3 million for the full year. That compares to $118.9 million and $477.8 million in the same quarter of 2011 and for that year overall.

The profit, albeit infused by the deferred tax asset, amounted to $5.19 per share for the quarter and $5.99 per share for 2012. Stock market analysts surveyed by Thompson Financial were expecting a quarterly profit of 24 cents per share and 57 cents per share for the year.

Carmike ended 2012 with total debt of nearly $435 million, up from just over $315 million at the close of 2011.

“The increase is primarily related to financing obligations on leases assumed in the Rave acquisition,” said Carmike Chief Financial Officer Richard Hare, pointing out the motion-picture exhibitor had a year-end cash balance of $68.5 million.

The top-grossing films of 2012, according to the website Box Office Mojo, were “Marvel’s The Avengers,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” “The Hunger Games,” “Skyfall,” and “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”

Shares of Carmike Cinemas stock rose 6 cents to $15.92 in trading Thursday on the Nasdaq exchange. The stock’s 52-week trading range is $10.42 to $17.20 per share.