AMC reels in 1Q profit via tix hike, cost cuts

Theater chain sees healthy turnaround

NEW YORK — Leading megaplex operator AMC Entertainment overcame a lackluster early summer box office season to beat Wall Street estimates with a quarterly profit of $11.8 million on record sales of $473 million.

AMC’s fiscal first-quarter 2004 saw a healthy turnaround compared with a loss of $875,000 in the same period a year ago. It also showed that ticket price hikes and cost-cutting could more than compensate for somewhat sluggish attendance figures compared with last year’s “Spider-Man” and “Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones” bonanzas during the same period.

Tickets up 10%

A 10% increase in ticket prices to an average $6.43 helped offset a 5% decline in per-screen admissions in the quarter ended July 3. Targeted cost-cutting also helped boost the company’s operating margins.

Admissions revenues were up 4% over the same period last year, though sales from concessions were off 1.3% to $125 million due to lower attendance.

Kansas City-based AMC is the second largest theater chain in the U.S., behind Regal, and claims 235 theaters with 3,531 screens in North America, Europe and Asia.

Company opened two new 16-screen megaplexes during the period in Burbank, Calif., and Orlando, Fla.

AMC is nevertheless in the process of disposing of an estimated 350 underperforming screens over the next three years.

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