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Why Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. Plunged on Friday Morning

By Anders Bylund - Feb 5, 2016 at 12:19PM

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A weak showing for the final Hunger Games movie led to soft revenues and plunging profits. Long-term targets are now up in the air, and shares are at three-year lows.

Image source: Lions Gate.

What: Lions Gate Entertainment (LGF-A -2.24%) reported third-quarter results Thursday night. Share prices fell 5% in extended trading, opened 6.5% below Thursday's closing prices the next morning, and continued to plunge when management faced analysts on the earnings call. As of 10:30 a.m. ET, Lions Gate shares were trading a total of 30% lower.

So what: Due to a relatively disappointing showing by the final film of the Hunger Games series and a lack of alternative blockbusters to make up for that miss, Lions Gate's third-quarter sales fell 11% year over year and GAAP earnings per share plunged from $0.65 to $0.27.

On the earnings call, CEO Jon Feltheimer noted that the final Hunger Games film fell more than $100 million short of its expected box office results. To explain why that title fell short, he pointed to a weak consumer economy in China and the terrorist attacks in Paris.

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

Now what: Due to this quarter's Mockingjay 2 weakness, Lions Gate is "currently tracking below our guidance range" on three-year EBITDA targets. Investors will get more detail in the next earnings call, as the company takes some time to digest this underperformance and how to overcome it.

In that earnings call, management spent a lot of time discussing their TV production plans with relatively little attention given to the film segment. Lions Gate may be in a period of transition these days, shifting to a tighter focus on small screens.

Whether Lions Gate ultimately ends up changing its business focus or simply throws its weight behind the theatrical studio operations again, the company is left in a lurch until the chosen efforts start to pay off. And investors are feeling that pain today, as shares are trading at prices not seen since Jan. 2013.

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