Company revenues also down due to no releases in quarter

Falling short of Wall Street estimates, Lionsgate has reported a narrowed quarterly loss of $1.7 million, or a penny a share, for its third quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with a $6 million loss for the year-ago period.

The analyst consensus had been for a profit of 9¢ a share.

Lionsgate released the earnings report — its first since its $412.5 million leveraged buyout of Summit Entertainment — after the markets closed Thursday. The stock took a hit in after-hours trading after closing Thursday

up 6¢ to $11.01. However, the share price has climbed more than 20% since the Summit deal was announced Jan. 13.

EBIDTA surged 60% to $16.3 million thanks partly to improved performance at Epix, its joint cable venture with Viacom and MGM. Revenues were off 24% to $323 million due to Lionsgate releasing no films during the quarter compared with three in the year-ago period; analysts had expected revenue at around $359 million.

“We had no wide theatrical releases in the quarter, but we received solid contributions from our other operating divisions and another strong performance by Epix,” said CEO Jon Feltheimer.

The Lionsgate-Summit combo brings together Hollywood’s biggest independent film studios, highlighted by Summit’s “Twilight” franchise and Lionsgate’s “The Hunger Games.”

Feltheimer said the company’s “very excited” about the opportunities created by the Summit deal, citing next week’s homevid release of “Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1″ and the upcoming theatrical bows of “Hunger Games” and “Breaking Dawn — Part 2.”

Motion picture revenue fell 29% to $233.3 million and home entertainment revenue from both motion pictures and TV revenues declined to $162.9 million, with Lionsgate noting that the decrease was attributable primarily to the strength of year-ago titles.

Lionsgate’s filmed entertainment backlog reached a record $607.5 million on Dec. 31, the fifth consecutive quarter of increased backlog. The figure reps the amount of future revenue not yet recorded from contracts for the licensing of films and TV product

General and administrative expenses totalled $35.8 million, essentially unchanged from the prior year.

Separately, Lionsgate on Thursday appointed former Summit production president Erik Feig to the same post at Lionsgate Motion Picture Group. Summit co-chiefs Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger were named co-chairs of the group on Jan. 20, replacing Joe Drake, who’s staying on through the release of “The Hunger Games.”

Current Lionsgate production prexy Mike Paseornek, who handles the Tyler Perry films, will remain in his post but fellow production president Alli Shearmur is expected to move into a producing deal.

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