It was a star-studded performance for Carmike Cinemas, with the movie-theater company on Monday reporting record-level results in the fourth quarter of 2015.
The firm posted a profit, or net income, of $6.8 million (27 cents per diluted share) on total operating revenues of $220.6 million in the October-December quarter. That was up from a loss of $2.2 million (9 cents per share) on operating earnings of $185.3 million in the same period a year ago.
For all of 2015, the company had a loss of $448,000 (2 cents per diluted share) on total operating revenues of $804.3 million. Still, that was much improved from an $8.9 million loss (38 cents per share) and operating revenues of $689.9 million in 2014.
The nation’s fourth-largest theater chain, headquartered in Columbus, attributed the stellar showing to its steady acquisition diet of smaller companies, growth from its existing movie complexes, and a solid lineup of films for its entertainment-hungry customers.
The top Hollywood movies during the fourth quarter included "Jurassic World," "Inside Out," "Minions" and "Ant-Man," along with the December releases of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" and "The Revenant." Other major contributors filling plenty of theater seats between October and December were "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 2," "The Martian" and "Spectre."
"Our admissions revenue growth per screen of over 15 percent in the 2015 fourth quarter and 9 percent for the full year, outpaced the industry by almost 500 and 200 basis points, respectively," Carmike President and Chief Executive Officer David Passman said in a statement. "We achieved record results across several key financial metrics, including a 19 percent rise in operating revenues to an all-time quarterly record, as well as a rise in operating income of over 100 percent, which drove increases in adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) and theater level cash flow of approximately 61 percent and 51 percent, respectively."
Carmike pulled the trigger last year on a $36 million purchase of Los Angeles-based Sundance Cinemas, the chain associated with major motion picture actor Robert Redford. That deal, completed in October, added five theaters and 37 screens to the Columbus company’s portfolio. Carmike now has 276 theaters (2,954 screens) in 41 states.
A major piece of the engine driving the motion-picture exhibitor’s success in the fourth quarter was Hollywood’s slate of films. The top players included "Jurassic World," "Inside Out," "Minions" and "Ant-Man," along with the December releases of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" and "The Revenant." Other major contributors filling plenty of theater seats between October and December were "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 2," "The Martian" and "Spectre."
At the theater-level, the movie lineup added up to solid increases in admissions paid by moviegoers and the money spent by them on concessions, which included basic popcorn, candy and soft drinks, as well as an expanding premium menu of food items in many of Carmike’s theaters.
In the fourth quarter, the average admission price per patron rose to $8.08, up from $7.35 in the same three-month period a year ago. Average concessions and other sales per customer came in at $5.33, up from $4.57.
Total theater attendance during the quarter was 16.4 million, while it was 64.9 million in 2015, with both numbers higher than in the previous earnings periods.
"Overall, guests spent an average of $13.41 per Carmike visit in the fourth quarter, representing a 12.5 percent increase in combined per-patron spending, compared to the prior year," Carmike Chief Financial Officer Richard Hare said in a statement. "We believe growth in these metrics showcases the success of our initiatives focused on increasing attendance, growing concession sales and further leveraging our overall theater-level operations."
Hare also mentioned that Carmike’s board of director recently approved the repurchase of up to $50 million of the firm’s stock. It has bought back about 305,000 shares thus far at an average price of $22.42 per share. He said the company has more than $100 million in cash on hand, allowing for future acquisitions, construction of new theaters and other strategic moves.
Carmike released its earnings report following the close of the Nasdaq exchange upon which its stock trades. Those shares on Monday increased 26 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $21.94 apiece. The stock’s 52-week trading range is $18.52 to $34.94 per share.