Sector Snap: Theater shares dip on box office woes

September 11, 2012

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- U.S. movie ticket sales in the third quarter are likely to be weaker than expected, putting a damper on the revenue and profits of theater companies, an analyst said Tuesday.

Gross revenue from ticket sales from July to September is likely to fall 8 percent from a year ago, said Nomura analyst Robert Fishman. Domestic revenue from July was down 8 percent, followed by a 10 percent decline in August, he said.

September releases include Sony's "Resident Evil: Retribution" and Disney's re-release of "Finding Nemo" in 3-D. That compares to last year's re-release of "The Lion King" in 3-D, as well as prominent movies "Contagion" and "The Help."

As well, "The Dark Knight Rises" so far has not done as well in the U.S. as the original "The Dark Knight." Fishman expects there will only be six or seven films that gross more than $100 million at the box office in the quarter, compared to nine last year.

Fishman cut his estimate for third-quarter adjusted earnings at Cinemark Holdings Inc. to 35 cents per share, down from 45 cents previously. He also cut his forecast for Regal Entertainment Group to 12 cents per share from 16 cents.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet forecast, on average, third-quarter earnings per share of 41 cents for Cinemark and 20 cents for Regal.

However, the analyst said the box office was likely to recover in the fourth quarter, benefiting from such highly anticipated movies as the finale of the "Twilight" series, "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2," the kick-off of a new J.R.R. Tolkien franchise, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," and "Skyfall," the latest James Bond movie.

Cinemark shares were down 15 cents at $23.52 in afternoon trading Tuesday. Regal shares were down 9 cents at $13.61. Carmike Cinemas Inc. shares were off 5 cents at $12.18.