What happened

Shares of Cinemark Holdings (NYSE:CNK) gained 15.7% in February 2018, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. The movie theater chain smashed Wall Street's earnings estimates in last month's fourth-quarter report, and investors reacted with a big sigh of relief.

So what

In the fourth quarter, Cinemark's GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) earnings rose 24% year over year to $0.82 per share. The average analyst would have settled for $0.47 per share. On the top line, revenues increased 7% to $750 million, just ahead of the Street's $745 million target.

In all fairness, analysts had not been counting on a one-time $45 million tax benefit in this quarter, skewing the per-share result $0.39 higher. Without this taxation quirk, Cinemark would have seen adjusted earnings of $0.43 per share.

Cinemark's corporate logo, incorporating the banners of subsidiaries Century Theatres, CineArts, Tinseltown, and Rave Cinemas.

Image source: Cinemark.

Now what

Cinemark's fourth quarter enjoyed the launch of another shoo-in Star Wars blockbuster, paving the way to a 0.8% year-over-year attendance boost despite significantly higher ticket and concession prices. The first quarter also looks good thanks to the record-breaking Black Panther premiere, and 2018 promises a generally promising film slate.

That being said, I still don't see myself owning Cinemark shares anytime soon, as the cinema sector at large is fighting for its very life against streaming video services and high-quality home theater systems.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.