money digest


Deal time

Imax Corp. on Tuesday unveiled its second profit-sharing joint-venture theater deal in as many months, this time with Muvico Theaters Inc., which will install three supersize screens this year and next. The first two are planned for multiplexes in St. Petersburg and West Palm Beach, Fla., and the third will go into the planned Xanadu project at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J. In March, Imax announced its first multiple joint-venture theater deal with Regal Cinemas. Joint ventures are designed to give Imax a larger slice of the boxoffice and other theater revenue. Imax also said Tuesday that "300: The Imax Experience" has grossed more than $20 million worldwide since premiering March 9. Imax shares rose 5.8% on Tuesday to $4.93, the leading gainer on The Hollywood Reporter's Showbiz 50 stock index.

Holding ground

Shares of EchoStar Communications Corp. and DirecTV Group Inc. will stay near their current prices for now but will face tough competition from telecommunications companies, a Cowen and Co. analyst said Tuesday in upgrading the two satellite television networks. Analyst Thomas Watts lifted his rating on both stocks from "underperform" to "neutral," setting a $24 price target for DirecTV and a $47 price target for EchoStar. DirecTV closed at $23.97 on Monday, while EchoStar stock finished at $46.91. Watts said AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. will improve their penetration of the home video market and take market share from the direct broadcast satellite networks and from cable providers. He rated AT&T and Verizon "outperform." "We expect telecommunications companies to gain up to 20% share in the 38 million homes served by 2010," he said.