The earnings report cycle for theatrical exhibition begins Thursday with Imax, as the premium format company is expected to tout its strong performance thanks to three major blockbusters.
After a sluggish first quarter salvaged only by the opening of “The Batman,” Imax and the global exhibition industry enjoyed its best quarter since the pandemic began thanks to summer blockbusters like “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Jurassic World: Dominion.” These films gave Imax three consecutive global openings of over $25 million for the first time in the company’s history.
Like the rest of the film industry, Imax is heading into a rougher period as August and September are expected to have very low grosses due to a lack of major tentpole releases. But Q4 2022 is expected to be as strong as Q2 with major films like “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” and “Avatar: The Way of Water” coming to theaters. Here’s what analysts will be looking at in Thursday’s earnings report:
The Numbers: Wall Street consensus expectations have settled at earnings per share of 13 cents on revenue of $73.7 million. That would be an increase of 208% in earnings per share and 44% in revenue year-over-year, as Q2 2021 saw Imax – along with the rest of exhibition – beginning the pandemic rebuilding process with films like “F9” and “A Quiet Place Part II.” Last year, Imax reported Q2 earnings of $51 million in revenue and a net loss of 16 cents per share.
MKM Partners analyst Eric Handler noted in his quarterly report that such predictions were down from earlier forecasts of $85 million in revenue, due in large part to COVID-19 outbreaks that shut down most Chinese cinemas, including all of Shanghai. Most of those theaters have reopened since then, and Handler expects that Chinese box office figures will “snap back relatively fast in China (as it did when the country first reopened in late 2020, early 2021) and provide a nice tailwind in the back half of this year.”
Stock Price: Over the course of Q2, Imax stock has held steady between $16-18. At close on Wednesday, the stock stood at $17.21, having hit a three-month high of $18.10 earlier in July. The company’s 52-week highs and lows stand at $22.10 and $13.60.
Domestic Box Office Boom: Fueled by the aforementioned blockbusters, Imax has grossed $247.7 million from its global theaters in the past quarter, including $98 million from “Top Gun: Maverick.” Thanks to that surge, the company’s 2022 grosses through June are only 5% behind what was grossed in the first half of 2019, even as the overall domestic box office in the first half of the year was 37% below 2019 levels.