AMC Theatres Swings to Quarterly Loss, Cites "Industry-Wide Softness"

Adam Aron 2018 Will Rogers Dinner - Getty - H 2019
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CEO Adam Aron, who leads the Dalian Wanda Group-owned circuit, said he was "bullish" about the full-year box office prospects as 'Avengers: Endgame' plays on his screens.

Exhibition giant AMC Theatres, which is owned by China's Dalian Wanda Group, on Thursday said it swung to a wider-than-expected first-quarter loss as it cited "industry-wide softness."

The mega-exhibitor posted a loss of $130.2 million, compared with year-ago profit of $17.7 million, on revenues of $1.2 billion, down from a year-earlier $1.38 billion.

Theater attendance for AMC Theatres was down 12.2 percent during the latest quarter, as it faced year-earlier competition from blockbuster titles like Black Panther. Theater giant Cinemark Holdings, which reported earnings on May 7, similarly said attendance was down 9 percent in the quarter. 

"Total revenue was lower in all categories, primarily driven by global industry-wide softness in the first quarter tied to the timing of the 2019 film slate, compared against a strong first quarter in 2018," AMC said in comments that accompanied the latest financial results.

The diluted loss per share came to $1.25, compared to 14 cents in per-share earnings in 2018. That misses Wall Street's consensus forecast for a loss of 51 cents per share during the latest first quarter.

“Even with the anticipated slow start to the year, we have been and continue to be quite bullish about the full year prospects for AMC, currently expecting 2019 adjusted EBITDA to exceed 2018 results, adjusted for ASC 842. While we have high expectations for 2019, due to an extraordinary slate of movies coming, the timing of releases within the film slate suggests that it will be a back-end loaded year," AMC Theatres CEO Adam Aron said in a statement as Avengers: Endgame played on his screens.

AMC also said its Stubs A-List movie ticket subscription program has signed up 785,000 subscribers and achieved "incremental profitability" during the first quarter. That comes as rival MoviePass continues to struggle.

AMC during recent quarters has touted how A-List members come to the multiplex more often than non-members, bring friends and family along with them and spend more on food and drink on average.

AMC Theatres operates around 1,000 cinema venues and 11,000 screens worldwide.