Imax Q4 Earnings Plunge on Fewer New Screen Installs

David James/Paramount Pictures

The giant screen exhibitor urged investors to look beyond weak results to theater signing momentum in 2012.

TORONTO – Imax Corp. on Thursday reported sharply lower fourth quarter earnings, due in part to fewer theater installs and a year-earlier tax benefit.

The giant screen exhibitor urged investors to look beyond weak earnings, which were in line with analyst expectations, to theater signing momentum and an upcoming Hollywood movie release slate to underline optimism for 2012.

Toronto-based Imax saw earnings for the three months to December 31 fall 88 percent to $6.3 million, against year-earlier earnings of $54.1 million.

The 2010 results included a non-cash deferred tax benefit of $54.8 million, and Imax also sustained higher operationg expenses during the latest quarter.

Q4 revenue was down 4 percent to $66.7 million, against a year-earlier $69.2 million.

Imax systems revenue during the latest frame was $29.8 million, against $32.9 million in 2010, as the exhibitor installed 17 new theater systems, compared to 20 new theaters in the fourth quarter of 2010.

But impressive box office from the latest Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol in December wasn’t enough to bolster disappointing earnings at the end of fiscal 2011.

“While we are disappointed that 2011 did not meet our financial objectives, in 2012, we believe we are positioning ourselves for both financial and strategic success, through our continued focus on differentiation, executing on network growth, and creating a compelling film slate,” Imax CEO Richard Gelfond said in a statement ahead of an analyst call Thursday morning.