Fourth-quarter revenue soared 98% to $54.2 million. A profit of $0.06 a share -- or $0.20 a share on an adjusted basis -- reversed a deficit from the previous year's final period. The top-line showing was a company record, fueled by 10 new theater installations and 6 digital upgrades, but the real stars are audiences showing up in big numbers to see spruced up celluloid on IMAX.
Films showing on IMAX screens delivered $101 million in gross box office receipts during the quarter. IMAX gets only a sliver of that, after the studios and theater exhibitors take their cuts, but the company's move to create joint-venture deals with major multiplex operators including AMC and Regal Entertainment
Things will only get brighter for IMAX. Its network of multiplex theaters has grown by 38% over the past year. Investors have also yet to feel the full impact of James Cameron's Avatar. News Corp.'s
In other words, this is going to be the hot quarter. IMAX screens have sold $187 million worth of Avatar and Disney's Alice in Wonderland tickets and we still have a few more weeks left in March. IMAX films accounted for a pedestrian $14 million at this point last year.
Cynics may wonder if there's life after Avatar for IMAX. There may be some letdown, but as IMAX points out, a lot of people experienced IMAX 3-D for the first time as a result of Avatar. They are now more likely to pay a premium for IMAX and IMAX 3-D in the future after experiencing the enhanced exhibition firsthand, resulting in more repeat customers.
IMAX is certainly going to give them plenty of reasons to come back. Disney's Iron Man 2, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, and Toy Story 3 will all be hitting IMAX next quarter, along with the latest Twilight installment. DreamWorks Animation's
Crack open the blender and toss in that loaded release slate, a growing fleet of supersized IMAX systems, and Avatar's ambassadorial goodwill and I dare you to spit out the resulting smoothie.
IMAX has completed its turnaround during the recession, hitting highs last seen nearly a decade ago. The stock took a hit earlier this month when AMC opened its first ETX (enhanced theater experience) screen, which will compete directly with IMAX, but the IMAX brand is growing too quickly to be tripped up by the experimentation of one of its joint-venture partners.
IMAX has never been as popular as it is right now, but it's not as popular as it will be in three months.
Have you had a good or bad IMAX experience lately? Share your perspective in the comment box below.
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz doesn't like the way he'd look blown up on an IMAX screen. He owns shares in Disney. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy, and it looks smoking hot on one of those eight-story IMAX screens.