Carmike fails to pop with $3.7 mil Q1 loss

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Selling less popcorn might have hurt the top line at Carmike Cinemas Inc.

Carmike, one of the few publicly traded movie exhibitors, on Monday reported a first-quarter loss of $3.7 million, compared with a loss in the year-ago quarter of $6.2 million. Revenue fell from $111.6 million to $110.6 million, with the culprit being food sales.

Carmike said it sold $72.8 million in tickets during the quarter, up from $72.6 million last year, though only $37.8 million in revenue came from concessions, down from $39 million.

Shares of Carmike hardly budged, up 6 cents during the regular session to $25.45, and climbed a bit higher in after-hours trading.

Carmike chairman and CEO Michael Patrick said Monday that "the film product did not perform well in our markets in January and February," though, like others in the industry, he is confident about the rest of the year. This month alone sees more fare with blockbuster potential, with the next installments of "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Shrek" following the record-setting "Spider-Man 3."

Carmike, which operates 2,427 movie screens in 37 states, has converted 1,724 of its screens to a digital-based platform, Patrick said.

Patrick said the company has "successfully implemented a number of cost-control measures in our theaters while being sensitive to the customer experience."

Two weeks ago, competitor Cinemark Holdings Inc. raised $532 million in an initial public offering of 28 million shares at $19 per share, the high end of expectations, reflecting Wall Street's renewed confidence in the movie exhibition industry.
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