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Can Lions Gate Climb Out of Its Slump When It Reports Earnings?

By Danny Vena - Nov 7, 2018 at 2:15PM

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It's been a tough year for the television and movie studio.

Investors in Lions Gate Entertainment (LGF-A -3.97%) (LGF-B -3.62%) haven't had much good news in 2018. The stock peaked early this year, but has now fallen 42% year-to-date, to levels not seen in nearly three years. The culprit? Management said that the growth it originally forecast for fiscal 2019 wouldn't be arriving until 2020, a result of incremental spending on Starz and changes to the company's film slate.

Investors will be watching closely for signs that the expected growth is materializing when Lions Gate reports the financial results of its fiscal 2019 second quarter (which ended on Sept. 30) after the market closes on Nov. 8. Let's look at the company's recent results and what investors will want to watch in this quarterly report.

Stephanie (actress Anna Kendrick, left) and Emily (actress Blake Lively) in a scene from A Simple Favor. They are sitting on a couch, facing each other, drinking cocktails.

Stephanie (Anna Kendrick, left) and Emily (Blake Lively) in a scene from "A Simple Favor." Image source: Lions Gate. 

Better-than-expected results

For the fiscal 2019 first quarter, (which ended June 30), Lions Gate reported revenue of $932.7 million, down 7% year over year, and adjusted earnings per share of $0.18. While it wasn't anything to write home about, it was better than analysts' consensus estimates, which had been calling for revenue of just $882.65 million and adjusted earnings per share of $0.15. 

Lions Gate faced a difficult comparison to the previous year, primarily due to the international theatrical release of the award-winning La La Land, as well as the home entertainment release of John Wick: Chapter 2. These comparisons dragged the motion picture segment down 23% year over year in Q1. The media networks segment put up nominal growth, increasing 3% versus the prior-year quarter, the result of resilience in the company's over-the-top business.

What this quarter may hold

Lions Gate doesn't provide a quarterly forecast, but did reiterate its long-term guidance of a three-year adjusted OIBDA (operating income before depreciation and amortization) compound annual growth rate in the mid- to high single digits.

In light of those somewhat vague guidelines, we can turn to Wall Street for something a little more concrete, though we don't want to get too caught up in its short-term mind-set. For the 2019 fiscal second quarter, analysts' consensus estimates are calling for revenue of $891.8 million, a decline of 5.5% year over year, and a loss per share of $0.14, much lower than the $0.07 gain in the prior-year quarter.

Investors will also be watching the quarterly report for an update regarding the Starz rollout on Amazon Prime Video in the U.K and German markets. Meanwhile, the Starzplay subscription video-on-demand service, which has been doing well in the Middle East and North Africa, was scheduled to debut in France, Italy, and Spain, so look for information on the progress of that initiative.

Lions Gate will also provide fresh updates on theatrical releases that occurred during the quarter. A Simple Favor is one example, which was "Certified Fresh" and achieved an 85% score on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes.

There's a lot of uncertainty for Lions Gate investors, as the company adapts to the changing media landscape. Much of its growth is riding on Starz, with its partnership with Amazon and international rollout both ongoing. Given that management has steadfastly maintained its timeline, there likely won't be any major surprises when Lions Gate reports earnings.

 

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