Let's not rush to bury Movie Gallery
The DVD-rental specialist surprised Wall Street this morning by holding its own. Even though the company's filing delay will keep us in the dark regarding income-statement line items below the gross profit line, Movie Gallery's top line looks surprisingly healthy.
For the quarter, revenues rose 2% to hit $583 million, confounding analysts' predictions that the top line would dip to $556 million. Same-store sales fell a scant 0.4%, which begs a bit more detail; the company's Hollywood Video chain suffered a 1.9% decline in comps, but its rural namesake stores came through with a welcome 3% advance.
Movie Gallery's showing is also an improvement over the more pronounced 1.4% comps decline that rival Blockbuster
Like Blockbuster, Movie Gallery is optimistic about its slate of upcoming movie releases. The new Wii and PS3 video game consoles rolling out this week should also inspire an uptick in video-rental business, as gamers hesitant to fork over $60 for a new game may choose to rent it first instead.
Movie Gallery has chosen to stick to its knitting in the offline world. Instead of following Blockbuster into what may prove to be a cannibalistic business online, in competition with the faster-growing Netflix
The future isn't likely to brighten further. Leveraged companies will keep smarting if borrowing costs keep climbing. Minimum-wage hikes may hurt. Even those new PS3 and Wii games that Movie Gallery is counting on will cost the company more up front than the older titles. None of this would be a problem if the company had the flexibility to boost its rental rates, but that'll be difficult. Netflix and Blockbuster have been holding their ground on attractively priced mail-order rentals, and now companies like Amazon.com
Shares of Movie Gallery were trading 8% higher this morning, because it managed to hold off the inevitable for another quarter. But all of these challenges will have to be dealt with sooner or later.
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