Has IMAX Become the Perfect Stock?

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Every investor would love to stumble upon the perfect stock. But will you ever really find a stock that provides everything you could possibly want?

One thing's for sure: You'll never discover truly great investments unless you actively look for them. Let's discuss the ideal qualities of a perfect stock, then decide if IMAX (NYSE: IMAX  ) fits the bill.

The quest for perfection
Stocks that look great based on one factor may prove horrible elsewhere, making due diligence a crucial part of your investing research. The best stocks excel in many different areas, including these important factors:

  • Growth. Expanding businesses show healthy revenue growth. While past growth is no guarantee that revenue will keep rising, it's certainly a better sign than a stagnant top line.
  • Margins. Higher sales mean nothing if a company can't produce profits from them. Strong margins ensure that company can turn revenue into profit.
  • Balance sheet. At debt-laden companies, banks and bondholders compete with shareholders for management's attention. Companies with strong balance sheets don't have to worry about the distraction of debt.
  • Money-making opportunities. Return on equity helps measure how well a company is finding opportunities to turn its resources into profitable business endeavors.
  • Valuation. You can't afford to pay too much for even the best companies. By using normalized figures, you can see how a stock's simple earnings multiple fits into a longer-term context.
  • Dividends. For tangible proof of profits, a check to shareholders every three months can't be beat. Companies with solid dividends and strong commitments to increasing payouts treat shareholders well.

With those factors in mind, let's take a closer look at IMAX.


What We Want to See


Pass or Fail?


5-year annual revenue growth > 15%




1-year revenue growth > 12%




Gross margin > 35%




Net margin > 15%



Balance sheet

Debt to equity < 50%




Current ratio > 1.3




Return on equity > 15%




Normalized P/E < 20




Current yield > 2%




5-year dividend growth > 10%




Total score


6 out of 10

Source: S&P Capital IQ. Total score = number of passes.

Since we looked at IMAX last year, the company gained back the point it lost from 2011 to 2012. The stock has put in reasonable performance, rising about 10% over the past year.

2012 was an extremely strong year for the movie industry, with gross U.S. ticket sales reaching a record $10.8 billion. The number of tickets sold increased for the first time in three years, and while paying customer counts were still well below record levels, higher prices made the difference. IMAX scored particularly well on blockbuster hits from the major studios, with Disney's (NYSE: DIS  )  "Avengers," Time Warner (NYSE: TWX  ) and its "The Dark Knight Rises," and "The Hunger Games" from Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF  ) helping to drive customers into premium IMAX theaters.

But what's really driving IMAX's potential is that studios are starting to get on board with exclusive IMAX-format content and other differentiators. With Time Warner's Warner Bros. Pictures signing on to provide 20 films over the next three years for IMAX, the theater's network will continue to provide unique value to studios and moviegoers alike.

Moreover, IMAX is continuing to push into emerging markets. With dozens of theaters lined up for emerging markets from Russia and China to South Korea and India, IMAX has spread across the globe and will continue to build out its worldwide network in the years to come.

Not everything has gone perfectly for IMAX, as 3-D movies haven't done as well as some had hoped. Yet by holding back RealD (UNKNOWN: RLD.DL  ) , the 3-D flop has actually helped IMAX retain its competitive moat, as its experience is more than adequate even in 2-D.

For IMAX to improve, it needs to get net margins up just a bit and then work on getting its earnings to catch up to its pricey valuation. With plenty of growth ahead, IMAX has a clear road to take advantage of Hollywood entertainment well into the future.

Keep searching
No stock is a sure thing, but some stocks are a lot closer to perfect than others. By looking for the perfect stock, you'll go a long way toward improving your investing prowess and learning how to separate out the best investments from the rest.

Disney's recent acquisition of Lucasfilm could give IMAX more blockbusters down the road. Find out whether Disney's stock is the better buy by reading our premium research report on the entertainment giant. This report includes the key items investors must watch as well as the opportunities and threats the company faces going forward. We're also providing a full year of regular analyst updates as news develops, so don't miss out -- simply click here now to claim your copy today.

Click here to add IMAX to My Watchlist, which can find all of our Foolish analysis on it and all your other stocks.

Read/Post Comments (3) | Recommend This Article (9)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2013, at 10:17 PM, notthisagain wrote:

    There was an older iMax story i just read with lots of comments but from 2010 to 2012. So I will add this here also.

    I have not read any comments about the theaters that you have been to or the movies playing now or past and what you thought of the actual experience of iMax and 3D. There was a wide screen wrap around theater is LA that I saw the movie Grand Prix in the mid 1960’s. I don’t remember if that was iMax or some other large formate wide screen. DisneyLand used to have a World of Tomorrow 360 degree movie, you stood in the middle and the screen was all around you. I liked them both.

    So I looked up the theaters here in the northwest and found these.

    Two theatre locations in Victoria BC, one in Bellingham WA, one in Langley BC, one in Richmond BC, one in Vancouver BC. listing these films

    The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey The IMAX Experience

    To The Arctic

    The Last Reef: Cities Beneath the Sea


    Jack the Giant Slayer: An IMAX 3D Experience

    Oz The Great and Powerful An IMAX 3D Experience

    Rocky Mountain Express


    Mysteries Of Egypt

    The Human Body

    Near Seattle there are two at Pacific Science Center (one sponsored by Boing and one by Paccar), and one downtown, One in Bellevue, one in Tukwilla, One in Lynnwood, one in Kent and one being built in Issaquah. These are all within driving distance that many people commute for work. Shows that are different from above are.

    Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure

    A Good Day to Die Hard: The IMAX Experience

    My wife and I saw the Hobbit last month at the PSC Paccar theatre. The 3D glasses were comfortable over my daily glasses. The seating is like captain chairs on a very steep row layout, almost as steep as a baseball stadium. The seats are high enough that my long legs don’t get cramped.The theater is very clean. the sound is very loud, more than I need, it becomes distracting.

    I think the nature and adventure movies are really better in 3D than popular movies. For me Special effects in popular action movies are only special the first time I see them and then they get the ‘this again’ reation. Flying with a V of geese, or being underwater is always exciting to me.

    There is NO WAY to reproduce the experience of an iMax movie be it 2D or 3D that would be within the price range of the 99%. If you have not been to a iMax movie try one on your next vacation or staycation. They are GREAT.

  • Report this Comment On March 05, 2013, at 3:31 PM, vladharut wrote:


  • Report this Comment On March 05, 2013, at 3:32 PM, vladharut wrote:


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