Regal net rises, but shares sink

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Regal Entertainment Group on Thursday reported a 30% profit increase as part of its fourth-quarter results, driven by a divestiture gain and an additional week of business compared with the year-ago period.

However, the exhibition giant missed Wall Street estimates, sending its shares down 9.1% to $9.36.

During a conference call, executives said Regal's digital-screen rollout remains delayed because of the credit crunch, but they lauded early 2009 boxoffice gains despite the recession and said a growing slate of 3-D releases should energize the business.

Management also said it likely would review any theaters put up for sale by Sumner Redstone's National Amusements but warned that the credit crisis continues to make deals difficult. "Clearly, financing would be an issue," Regal CEO Mike Campbell said.

The latest market chatter suggests National Amusements could put at least 900 of its 1,500 screens up for sale at any minute.

Knoxville, Tenn.-based Regal reported a quarterly profit of $30.1 million, up from $23.2 million in the year-ago period. Revenue rose 18% to $711.7 million thanks to the extra week and the acquisition of Consolidated Theatres. (partialdiff)
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