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Lionsgate Posts Loss, Underperforms Wall Street Expectations

Dave McNary

Lionsgate has posted a quarterly loss and its revenues and operating income have come in under Wall Street projections, despite growth from its premium cable channel, Starz.

The studio reported a net loss of $24 million, or 11 cents a share, with adjusted operating income of $103 million for its fourth fiscal quarter ended March 31. The earnings per share of 11 cents came in well short of the consensus outlook for 19 cents.

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Revenues totaled $914 million, or $22 million under the consensus estimate. Starz reported 24.7 million overall domestic subscribers in the quarter, up 1.2 million from the year-ago quarter, driven by strong over-the-top to more than 4 million subscribers. Starz CEO Chris Albrecht left the company in February.

Starz has been the subject of recent speculation with CBS rumored to have made a $5 billion offer that was spurned. Starz was acquired by Lionsgate in 2016 for $4.4 billion.

During the conference call with Wall Street analysts following the earnings report, Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer said the company does not comment on mergers and acquisitions rumors. Instead, he touted the growth plans for Starzplay streaming service outside the United States with plans for operations in 51 countries by July, achieving profitability by fiscal 2023 with as many as 25 million subscribers. He added that Starzplay Arabia has been particularly successful.

“Our responsibility is to our shareholders, so we always have to listen to opportunities to create in any way shareholder value,” he said. “But we’re outlining a plan today and that’s all we’re going to execute on.”

The results did not include the unexpectedly strong box office performance by “John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum,” which opened on May 17 and represents the studio’s first hit since 2017’s “Wonder.” Lionsgate has already green-lit “John Wick 4” for release in 2021.

“We’ve completed a very active and productive fiscal 2019 in which we set in place all the elements for strong growth and continued value creation in the year ahead,” said Feltheimer.  “We’ve refilled our film and television content pipelines, refocused on extracting maximum value from our franchise properties and are capitalizing on an extraordinary opportunity to continue Starz’s global expansion and cement its stature as one of the leading international pure play subscription video-on-demand services.”

Lionsgate’s media networks segment revenues, which includes Starz, increased by 4% to $1.46 billion in the fiscal year due to strong OTT subscriber growth. Segment profits increased by 2% to $436 million.

Motion Picture segment revenues decreased by 20% to $1.46 billion in the year due to a smaller film slate over the prior year. Segment profits decreased by 28% to $129 million. The studio’s top domestic performer during the fiscal year was the final “Madea” movie, “Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral.”

Television production segment revenues decreased by 11% to $921 million in the year due to timing of certain titles. Segment profits decreased by 41% to $66 million.

Lionsgate made the earnings announcement on Thursday at the close of trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Shares of Lionsgate declined slightly in after-hours trading by 4 cents to $15.99. The stock has declined by 50% in the last 16 months.

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