Image source: Lions Gate.

Content-production and distribution-studio Lions Gate Entertainment (LGF-A 2.77%) reported first-quarter results after the closing bell on Thursday. Reacting to the news, shares surged as much as 6% higher in after-hours trading.

Let's see what's going on in this market-moving report.

Lions Gate's Q1 results: The raw numbers


Q1 2017 Actuals

Q1 2016 Actuals

Growth (Year over year)


$555.6 million

$408.9 million


Net income attributable to Lions Gate shareholders

$1.25 million

$40.7 million


GAAP EPS (diluted)




Source: Lions Gate.

What happened with Lions Gate this quarter?

If the GAAP results above look grim, you might want to consider that Lions Gate recorded $47 million of restructuring charges, accounting adjustments, and other one-time items in the quarter. A year ago, these types of charges only added up to $13.7 million. Backing out these adjustments, plus the usual assortment of share-based compensation items, adjusted earnings fell from $0.32 to $0.19 per diluted share.

  • The declining earnings were a result of larger marketing and distribution expenses, because Lions Gate had two wide theatrical releases in this period, but zero in the year-ago quarter. There were also some start-up costs for the pending merger with Starz (STRZA), which was announced during the first quarter.
  • The television segment tripled the number of episodes and hours of content produced year over year. Revenues from that division still declined, because the corresponding period of last year included Netflix's payments for a multi-year, international Orange Is the New Black license. Some deals make bigger waves than others.
  • Theatrical revenue more than doubled, thanks to a larger release schedule. Sales in that segment increased 32%, to $362.5 million.

What management had to say

Anticipating a storm of analyst questions in tonight's earnings call, Lions Gate CEO Jon Feltheimer addressed the Starz merger up front and center. "The most significant development in the quarter was our agreement to acquire Starz," Feltheimer said. "The combination will accelerate the growth and diversification of both companies, deepening our portfolio of content, expanding our access to distribution, streamlining our pathways to the consumer, and unlocking enormous opportunities for future growth."

Expect more detail in the earnings call. The statement above could have been meatier, as it simply summarized the benefits everyone already expected out of the $4.4 billion deal.

Looking ahead

So the company chugs along toward that game-changing merger, which is expected to close by the end of this calendar year. I can't wait to see exactly how the combination of Lions Gate's production skills may gel with Starz's own TV studio assets, and how the two brands will live across premium cable and global multiplexes.

But that kind of information is scarce, so far. Meanwhile, Lions Gate's television efforts continue to grow while theatrical sales will remain lumpy. In other words, it's business as usual.