Shares ride strong forecasts on 'Hunger Games' B.O.
Wall Street’s bullishness over “The Hunger Games” pushed Lionsgate’s stock to another all-time high on Tuesday, three days ahead of the pic’s opening.The stock closed up 7.2%, up $1.03, to $15.28 a share, following an 8% hike Monday. Volume topped 8 million shares, five times the normal level over the past three months. The Fandango ticketing service reported “Hunger Games” has amounted to 92% of daily ticket sales and sold out nearly 2,000 showtimes. It’s also Fandango’s top ticket-seller of the year and the top-selling March release in company history, and it has sold more tickets on Fandango than the first “Twilight” movie during its entire advance ticketing run. “‘Hunger Games’ continues to amaze us with its astonishing pace,” exec VP-g.m. Rick Butler said. The service also said theater owners are posting additional showtimes to meet the growing demand. The latest gain came with Miller Tabak raising its target price to $17 from $14, citing “continued positive sentiment” toward “Hunger Games” with a projected opening weekend of $100 million-$110 million at the domestic box office and a final possible cume of $300 million. “By way of comparison, the ‘Twilight’ franchise has averaged $270 million at the domestic box office plus $359 million at the international box office equals $629 million average, and Lionsgate aims to tap into that same core target audience with ‘The Hunger Games,’” Miller Tabak noted. Hudson Square also issued a bullish report about the long-term outlook for Lionsgate. “Beyond ‘Hunger Games,’ we believe Lionsgate has developed a strong record in identifying and launching hit franchises, from films such as ‘Saw’ and ‘Expendables’ to TV shows such as ‘Weeds’ and ‘Mad Men,’” Hudson Square wrote. “We expect that record to continue.” The stock has more than doubled in value since late August, when Lionsgate reached a settlement with Carl Icahn to cash out his 33% position at $7 a share. It’s also up 70% since Lionsgate acquired Summit Entertainment on Jan. 13 for $412.5 million.