Lionsgate CEO Raises Dividend, Offers Confident Outlook at Shareholder Meeting
"Despite a volatile industry environment ... the opportunities for Lionsgate today are greater than ever," Jon Feltheimer told investors in Toronto.
Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer on Tuesday told investors at the studio's annual shareholders meeting to look beyond current market instability and change to greater gains on the horizon.
"Despite a volatile industry environment and the accelerating pace of disruptive change, I believe that the opportunities for Lionsgate today are greater than ever," Feltheimer told a small gathering of investors and executives at the Shangri-La Hotel mid-way through the Toronto Film Festival.
To underline that confidence, Feltheimer unveiled a 28 percent increase in the studio's quarterly cash dividend, from seven to nine cents a-share. That announcement followed the completion of formal business at the investors meeting, including selecting its slate of board members and approving top executives’ compensation packages.
Feltheimer in brief remarks that followed said the studio continues to "deepen" its film and TV slates, while pushing into new businesses, including the gaming space. The past year's highlight reel included Lionsgate currently releasing around 40 movies a year, under varied labels.
Feltheimer cited the upcoming release of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 as standing out as part of a successful movie franchise: "It's probably the best of them all." And he pointed to Lionsgate's strategic investment in Starz, with Liberty Global's John Malone in the audience after joining the company's board of directors and attending his first annual meeting.
"You've been to a couple of other ones," Feltheimer said to Malone, as he welcomed him to the investors meeting. The Lionsgate chief, responding to a shareholder question about possibly too many TV shows today being available to audiences as networks compete for eyeballs, said people were watching more television than ever.
"We welcome the competition. Fragmentation is working for our business right now," Feltheimer said, after pointing to well-performing dramas like Orange is the New Black and Nashville.