The house brands, by and large, are mostly a "me too" copy of IMAX. IMAX, from what I hear, take a front seat to the Clones when there are an IMAX and Clone in the same multiplex. For movies showing on all formats in, at least the multiplexs I am plugged into, customers go for IMAX first, the clone second and, interestingly, the 2D version next if it a 3D movie. The chains know IMAX is THE preferred way to see movies that are in IMAX. The chains also generally run their projectors with saving costs in mind first with lower light levels to extend the life the very expensive bulbs and run those bulbs too long so they degrade the image further. IMAX, if you care to believe it, monitors their installations and don't let that happen. The average multiplex employee is not paid very much as well and the projection standards that were fairly high when there were higher paid professional, trained projectionists running the projection have been hijacked by the managers looking to cut costs. The Clones hitting bigger numbers is more a reflection of there being more of them and the publics desire to see movies on the biggest screen available. The trend in Cinema back to bigger screens that IMAX started has proven itself. Can IMAX lose the competition...sure...but so far they are still at the top of the Cinema food chain. Dolby, if they succeed in rolling out their offering, is right now their only competition. We will see where that goes.
The disclosure that IMAX has content lined up for all but one week this year “demonstrates the increasing value of the IMAX format to studios and their desire to lock-in slots well ahead of time (with studios also clearly willing to move release dates),” says B. Riley’s Eric Wold who lifted his IMAX stock price target 11.5% to $43.50.
This analyst used to be very bullish and then turned very bearish and was the most quoted analyst for quite a while. Now he is bullish again with the highest price target I have seen. He turned bearish for reasons many of which I believe turned out to be incorrect. He was correct in the bearish call however. This time I believe he is spot on to IMAX's current advantage...their clout with the Studios, Producers and certainly Directors. Even actors are pushing for IMAX as Tom Cruise did by rescheduling his recent Mission Impossible to get an IMAX slot. He is also a producer so maybe that hat he was wearing was driving that.
As long as this enviable situation remains, they keep executing by installing at current pace or better, they keep executing by signing more deals, they execute by remaining the best widely available way to see big movies and Greg Foster maintains his knack for picking mostly winners I will remain an owner of IMAX stock. I actually think if the overall market is good and the slate of movies drives (mostly) big Box Office I think we hit Mr. Wold's target by the end of the summer or year end with Star Wars. If Star Wars somehow beats Avatar worldwide box office then either IMAX stock really takes off or someone buys them. Extrapolate the numbers with the content known to be hitting over the next 3 - 4 years with Avatar, Star Wars, etc....
I have been waiting for this for a very long time. Is this the moment that many will be looking back on months or years from now that IMAX finally made it's move...it could be. We will see but I am enjoying the ride right now!!
Luck can be where hard work and opportunity meet. Many of us here have put in the hard work and, for now, it looks like IMAX has an incredible opportunity at this particular time in the Cinema space. They just have to continue to execute as they have. I will not predict the future beyond my current feeling that IMAX will be worth more in the coming months, and possibly years, than it is now. Things change but that is my current view and I feel highly confident...for now. And....I will continue to do the hard work but lately it is a lot more fun!
You are obviously bearish on IMAX. I am sure you have your reason for your investment which I expect has you shorting the stock. Good luck with that. You also are here selling your thesis to anyone who reads this board and perhaps to yourself. I am in the opposite position. That is what makes markets. I have found that beyond any investment thesis I have on any company based on research, analysis of the space and my own intuition has to be accompanied by a certain amount of luck. Any investment expert will admit that. Hence I hope. I am not arrogant enough to state my investment thesis as fact as that is the meaning of thesis...it is not fact. All that said, I have a big bet, and big gains, on IMAX that I am sticking with...for now.
They seem to be much more transparent as they have more good news to deliver. Gelfond actually gave an April date for the installation of Laser in the TCL Chinese theater in Hollywood which is arguably IMAX's most visible location. That should be very interesting! Joe actually gave projections for stock based compensation which I had not noticed before. The insight into China was very reassuring and even Russia was mentioned as being surprisingly unaffected by recent events. The opening of their new headquarters in June with an investor day there was a nice surprise. I think I may try to attend that.
Neither. As I said there could be many reasons for no domestic theater signings. A mature, somewhat built out domestic installed base where most of the exclusive zones have been taken. New technology coming that will give pause to anyone committing to an upgrade. I would like a new big screen for my home theater but with all the changes in TV technology I am waiting and making due with my puny 55" Sony Trinitron I bought 4 or 5 years ago.Lastly, exactly the trend you cited...reseating. Very expensive but low tech enough to feel comfortable committing your precious cash to investing in towards the goal of all investment...driving attendance. Most screens have already been upgraded to digital and 3D and they need to get a return on that investment before buying more new technology so why do so if waiting will only get you buying in with technology that is firmly in the new wave that we are just entering? I could be wrong but any or all of these reasons is just as likely of the "hurt feelings" you think are driving the decision making of the exhibitors. I choose to focus more on managements curtailing their excessive selling somewhat rather than the lack of new domestic theater deals.
I respect you for sticking to your guns but you keep beating the drum that the exhibitors are so pissed off at IMAX for the Netflix "experiment" that they are going to punish IMAX. You may be correct that they are still angry but I would not let that effect your investing. I don't think that anyone is not going to business with IMAX because their feeling were hurt. I could be wrong but in business profits generally trump feelings. There are other explanations why there were no domestic deals in Q4 and you should considers the other side of your view.
I wouldn't expect there to be those kind of seats in IMAX theaters anytime soon. Most of the IMAX theaters I have been to already have a very high quality seating. I would expect IMAX to put the money into it's technology and for their JV partners to want that as well. My whole point is that as long as the exhibition industry is investing in expensive seating it leaves less funding for technology acquisition and upgrades. Perhaps that is an entry for Dolby to copy IMAX's business modeling provide the technology through JV agreements. That could be a downside of the reseating trend for IMAX but I think the upside more than compensates any possible downside. In any case all of this will become more clear in 2015 and 2016 as the whole industry is being disrupted and the winners and losers will start showing themselves. For now I am still betting on IMAX to be one of the winners. We will see.
The "reseats" Ritz refers to is real and is the current thinking by the exhibition industry of how to get people off their couches. The numbers are encouraging as attendance is going up when these are installed and, as Ritz pointed out, so is sales of refreshments which is where the real profit is in exhibition. One problem I have already heard about is they are more difficult to keep clean and people can be pigs. The seats can look bad very quickly. Most importantly, the cost is high. I have heard the 225-250K per theater (an average size theater) for one type (they have a range of cost and features) and someone has to pay for that. I listened to Regal's CC where I believe they said that the landlords are possibly a source of some of the funds as, I expect, they are considered fixtures that go with the building. However, the industry is already highly leveraged and most just finished a technology upgrade to Digital, 3D and Upgraded screens that they are still amortizing. This can be seen as an advantage to IMAX when they do JV's as the technology costs the exhibitors nothing. They can put their resources into seating and enhanced refreshments and allow IMAX to be on the hook for the image and sound creation. I would disagree with gharabe that IMAX is just another PLF. The chain's PLF solutions range from excellent to bad. The excellent one approach IMAX but the IMAX enhanced print is a differentiator as is the different aspect ratio when it is used by the filmmaker. This has been happening increasingly and plays to IMAX's advantage. IMAX, if you believe the hype (which I mostly do in this case) also demand that the projection is up to their standards especially when it comes to brightness. This is a very big deal as the exhibitors can save a lot on costs as the bulbs are very expensive. They are used at lower brightness to increase longevity and be replaced after the image is no longer acceptable. IMAX monitors all their screens in real time.
Well the market has taken back all the gains of the last month on anticipation that earnings will disappoint. Having watched this stock after earning for years I will predict nothing. That said, having the market take down the stock price from several recent 52 week highs and approaching all time highs helps mitigate the damage of lackluster earnings or a small disappointment...I hope. My further hope is that management has held back some announcements that the street will take as positives and support the stock price in the low 30's. Just filling out the schedule for the summer with assumed but not announced titles would be a start. Some insight into Laser would also help. The reason behind the recent hire from Disney if it is a possible new revenue stream would be great. Chinese BO numbers, if they are holding up in a slowing economy, should help especially considering the possible negative effect of the strong dollar. And finally, the 2014 theater install numbers if they stay at the 100 - 120 per year rate would be comforting. The stock price could really go either way based on the CC and, as is the case usually but especially in our new reality, based on the trend in the market tomorrow. We will see.
None of the downgrades were horrible just dialing back expectations. Earnings CC should be interesting. Good time to make some announcement(s) that they may have been holing for the CC. You may very well get your entry point id they don't have some juicy announcements and the numbers do not somehow surprise to the upside. If they surprise to the downside your entry point will be screaming at you on Thursday.
It may be because there are now more PLF screens than IMAX, or at least for that movie, but I would like to confirm that. Some of these last minute DMR conversions are going to bomb but, generally, it is better than an aging movie or one that is bombing itself. American Sniper was a home run or at lease a triple, 50 Shades was maybe only a single but together they reflect how that approach can succeed.
"“Fifty Shades” even did well with giant screen fans, and saw around $8.2 million, or roughly nine percent, of its domestic haul come from Premium Large Format showings. IMAX shifted its schedule last week to fit “Fifty Shades” in, and 85 screens brought in $2.1 million over the weekend."
It is the hottest movie right now and the 2 movies playing in IMAX now were bombs but I was skeptical that this title would do well in IMAX. It was only playing on a small percentage of the IMAX screens so I guess this would be considered a success and worth the cost of DMR. I believe their new approach of trying different titles that they traditionally would, especially is weaker time periods is a great idea. Wading back into the right family oriented titles that they began to avoid after some bad results for the wrong one is also something that is worth a try.
I have no intention of selling as my average cost is 19.50 and I believe this stock's best days are ahead of it. Having been in at 16 and holding until I lost 90% of my gain from a top of 38 after the glow of Avatar wore off I have been waiting long and patiently for exactly this time...I hope. If not now when? We will see.
A while ago IMAX hired a Chief Marketing Officer from their outside PR firm. They talked about a major initiative to expand IMAX brand. "Never compromise" was launched after a weak "See a movie or be in one". The new tag line sort of copies "Porsche...there is no substitution" and "The Ultimate Driving Machine " with it's bravado...I like it. Today I got a Google alert of what has to be a PR driven piece from a site called "brand channel". I would post the link but I don't think Yahoo allows that anymore. It is called; "Reinventing Entertainment: 5 Questions with Richard Gelfond". It is THE best piece I have seen and it has 2 videos, one an interview with Rich Gelfond and another about the TCL Home IMAX System that supposed come out soon in the Chinese market. The second was extremely interesting as it seems like it could be a hit, at least in China. Not only does the whole piece lay out as good an argument for IMAX as I have seen anywhere but Gelfond speaks to a myriad issues especially one which I think he handled quite deftly...the "Netflix Experiment".
I see IMAX at all time highs in the not too distant future. Possibly after earnings especially if they have some juicy announcement they have been sitting on. Not counting on it as earnings has cut both ways with IMAX but it could happen.
What struck me is how he said that now the studios are moving release dates with getting on IMAX screens as a priority. this has be hinted about or alluded to several times before but not as a statement of fact. That fact alone is huge because it allows IMAX to shape release dates to suit their schedule and keep the content coming on a regular basis. the success of Gravity and other movies outside of the traditional key periods like Christmas has allowed this to be thought of when in the past it was not considered smart. The fact that IMAX was such a big part of Gravity's success was a great selling point for this new approach to release dates. Did anyone notice that Greg said they are committed to release windows for exibition but that, during the dead zones in the calendar they will continue to try to "experiment" in an effort to get people into theaters that benefit not only IMAX but their partners?
Installs have been weighted for years towards the 4th 1/4 for whatever reason, I expect to cash in on that years Christmas blockbuster. The pace of conversion installs can be up to mostly IMAX and their multiplex partners but new installs can be delayed, and probably usually are, for a myriad of reasons having to do with creating new developments in Commercial Real Estate. Hopefully, and I expect this to be true, the new installs will be larger venues looking to transition to Laser in the future. Greg Foster talked about this in the last CC that the little, art house and independent (and cheaper...not blockbuster budgets) are thriving in smaller theater and the BIG movies that need IMAX type venues are also doing well. The stuff in the middle is going nowhere. This gets back to the whole thesis of venues to exceed the experience of Home theaters which, by necessity, need to be BIG. Tomorrows earnings CC will be very telling about a lot of things.
I was disappointed when you got out of your IMAX position as you were generally positive on IMAX, even looking past managements excessive selling mainly because they could, to see the bigger picture. The good news is you only missed a few points and you can get back in if you choose to. I am as positive on IMAX as I have ever been except for the euphoria after Avatar. That showed the promise of IMAX but they still needed to back that up with execution which they have been doing successfully but slowly. Now they are approaching all time highs and the question is will recent trends continue. I have been concerned all along about exactly what happened when a big, respected name....Dolby announced they plan to challenge IMAX directly. Looking at what both stocks have done since that has made me believe that while the challenge is real IMAX has such a big head start in an industry that moves very slowly to change it is still IMAX's space to lose. The next CC and last quarter's earnings will be very important. Trading IMAX before earnings has always been a risky bet both positive and negative so timing getting back in is anyone's guess. Greg was very positive on the Stifel CC but he usually is. However, his comments on utilizing the growing network, however slowly, with more content by experimenting with things they wouldn't do before should lead to at least some successes. Also, his comments on NOT seeing a big slowdown in China is critical since China's slowdown could have hurt BO there. His strong support for Documentaries, I believe, is also important to utilize the normally empty seats during weekdays for education oriented attendance. Last, from what Greg said their clout in Hollywood has never been greater which should allow them great leverage in keeping the best, and more frequent, content on their screens.
I did not state I know for sure what is going on. You may be correct in your speculation. What I offered was a reasonable explanation for why there were no domestic theater sales announced for the last 4 months. It is at least as reasonable as your explanation. I am not personally attacking you but rather just questioning your theory as to why in the last 4 months there were no additional domestic theater deals announced. However, for some reason you reject other views other than your own. I believe having a public forum for different points of view on IMAX the major value of this board which is why I participate. I appreciate your opinion I just don't believe residual anger over the Netflix deal will drive the exhibitors decision making as much as you believe. It is just as likely that no new theater deals announced in the last 4 months is just a coincidence. Perhaps both of our theories might be at work, no one knows unless they have an inside source at one of the exhibitors. Do you?