Why National CineMedia, Inc. Shares Got Dumped

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of National CineMedia  (NASDAQ: NCMI  ) were down as much as 23% today following a weak outlook in its fourth-quarter earnings report.

So what: The movie-theater advertiser actually delivered a strong quarter as sales increased 5.9% to $122.7 million, beating estimates of $117.6 million, and its per-share profit of $0.21 also topped the analyst consensus at $0.16. CEO Kurt Hall called 2013 "another successful year" for the company, and said it "made progress on our longer-term strategy to broaden our client base," among other areas. The company also announced a special dividend of $0.50, which will be paid out in March.

Now what: What forced the sell-off was the company's first-quarter guidance, as its sees revenue falling, even after adjusting for the sale of its Fathom division, which it completed on Dec. 26. It sees a range of $67 million to $72 million, below analyst estimates of $79.5 million and down from an adjusted total of $73.7 million a year ago. For the year, it sees revenue of $430 million to $440 million, a 1% to 3% improvement from 2013, with flat EBITDA. Profits may not be growing anytime soon for National CineMedia, but investors can take solace in the company's commitment to returning capital to shareholders with its special dividend and regular dividend yield of 5.6%. 

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