Imax swings to second-quarter profit

$2.6 million gain the first in three years

Citing an increased presence in theaters, Imax has moved into the black for the first time in three years.

Company swung to a second-quarter profit of $2.6 million from a loss of $12.2 million in the year-ago period. Revenues rose 94% to $41 million.

CEO Richard L. Gelfond said he was “very pleased” with the results.

“The strategic and operational groundwork laid over the last two years came together,” he said in a statement. “While one quarter does not make a trend, we believe this quarter is an early indication of the benefits of our new business model and that the pieces are in place to continue to deliver revenue growth and profitability for fiscal 2009.”

Imax’s strategy has been to focus on lower-cost digital-projection systems and use its DMR (Digital Re-Mastering) technology to convert 35mm film into digital form. It said gross revenues from DMR titles increased 346% to $84.2 million from four pics — “Monsters vs. Aliens,” “Star Trek,” “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” and “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” which ranks as the third highest grossing DMR title behind “The Dark Knight” and “Polar Express.”

At the end of the quarter, 102 digital systems were in operation vs. none a year ago, while the number of Imax theaters in operation under joint revenue-sharing arrangements also grew significantly to 91 from 11.

Upcoming Imax titles include “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs,” “Where the Wild Things Are,” “A Christmas Carol” and James Cameron’s “Avatar.” Titles for 2010 include “Alice in Wonderland,” “How to Train Your Dragon,” “Shrek Forever After” and “Hubble 3D.”

As of June 30, there were 394 Imax theaters (273 commercial, 121 institutional) operating in 44 countries.

Company’s stock price has more than doubled this year; shares edged down 10¢ to $9.40 in Nasdaq trading Thursday.

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