Regal rev rises 7%

Exhib sez 2nd-qtr. profit flat in tough climate

HOLLYWOOD — Regal Entertainment’s second-quarter profit inched up just 1% amid a modest surge in revenue, with the No. 1 U.S. exhib citing a challenging box office environment Tuesday in its release of figures.

Denver-based circuit saw $47.1 million in net income in the latest quarter.

Rev rose 7% to $648.1 million on a pro forma basis, which assumed current operations were in place a year ago.

“(We) produced another quarter of solid financial results in a challenging box office environment,” co-CEO Michael Campbell said.

Campbell also touted a strong cash position and free cash-flow generation.

Prior to the company’s big July 1 dividend of $5.05 a share, Regal had $901.4 million in cash, with debt totaling $1.25 billion. Its operating cash flow climbed 2% in the quarter to $132.5 million.

Digital delivery

Regal co-CEO Kurt Hall said digital cinema unit Regal CineMedia continued its digital screen build-out in the period. “The deployment of the digital content network continues to track ahead of plan and under budget, with over 3,000 screens now deployed, on our way to approximately 5,000 screens by first-quarter 2004.”

Regal uses its digital screens for a specially programmed preshow of onscreen advertising and interstitial entertainment. Regal CineMedia screens are also used from time to time to offer alternative programming such as sporting events and musical concerts.

Overall, Regal operates 6,119 screens in 562 theaters among 39 states.

Regal shares were up 63¢ at $18.06 in midday trading.

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