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Lionsgate Posts Small Profit, Tops Forecasts Without ‘Hunger Games’ Title

'Hunger Games: Catching Fire' opens Nov. 22

Lionsgate has posted a small profit of $500,000 in earnings for its second quarter ended Sept. 30, topping Wall Street’s consensus forecast of a loss of 8 cents a share.

Without a “Hunger Games” title, revenues slid 29% to $498.7 million, which was about 4% below forecasts.

Shares edged up during the session with the issue rising 16 cents to $32.30 in late trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The issue has more than doubled in value this year.

Lionsgate’s year-ago quarter had seen earnings hit $75.5 million, or 56 cents a share, on revenues of $707 million thanks to the home entertainment release of “The Hunger Games” and timing of TV program deliveries.

Lionsgate released the earnings report before the market opened Friday — a dozen days before the opening of its franchise title, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” starring Jennifer Lawrence. The second “Hunger Games” is expected to dominate the box office for several weeks.

Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer said in a conference call with analysts that international box office for “Catching Fire” will be “significantly” above the total from the first “Hunger Games,” which took $283 million internationally.

The two “Mockingjay” titles in the “Hunger Games” franchise are already being shot back-to-back in Atlanta and will be released in November, 2014 and November, 2015.

“We completed a strong first six months of the year with a solid second quarter in which we generated robust free cash flow, continued to delever our balance sheet and lowered our interest expense,” said Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer said in a statement.

“We’re on track for another very good year and, with the worldwide launch of the next installment of our ‘Hunger Games’ franchise on November 22, the ongoing diversification of our television business and a strong and growing presence on digital platforms, we are positioned to deliver growth for many years to come,” Feltheimer added.

The most recent quarter was expected to be a loss because it included a previously disclosed $36.2 million charge for early extinguishment of debt.

Liosngate’s Motion Picture revenue declined 29% to $434.4 million as “Red 2” and “You’re Next” fell short of last year’s “The Expendables 2,” “The Possession” and “Step Up Revolution.”

Home entertainment revenue slid 24.4% to $209.9 million and revenue for its  Television Production operation unit fell 35.1% to $64.3 million.

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