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‘Catching Fire’ Lifts Lionsgate Quarterly Earnings Above Forecasts

Citing a strong performance by “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” Lionsgate has reported earnings of $88.8 million, or 64 cents a share — well above Wall Street forecasts of 44 cents — for its third quarter ended Dec. 31.

The third-quarter earnings more than doubled the year-ago profits of $37.8 million, or 27 cents a share.  Revenues jumped 13% to $839.9 million, driven by strong domestic and international box office performance of “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” along with international contributions from “Now You See Me.”

Worldwide box office for “Catching Fire” is more than 25% above “The Hunger Games.” The sequel, starring Jennifer Lawrence at Katniss Everdeen, took in $421 million domestically — making it the top title released in 2013 — and another $438 million overseas.

“Our stellar results in the quarter were attributable to our operating performance, the favorable environment for content and the benefits from our strong balance sheet,” said Lionsgate Chief Executive Officer Jon Feltheimer. “We will continue to invest in content and embrace innovative models for licensing that content to digital and traditional platforms alike in order to build on this performance and create additional long-term value for our shareholders.”

Lionsgate reported the earnings after the market closed. The studio has seen its stock stay in the low $30s in recent months following an 18-month surge that came in the wake of buying Summit Entertainment in early 2012.

Overall motion picture segment revenue increased by 12% to $757.6 million; within that segment, theatrical revenue increased 44% to a quarterly record of $277.6 million and the filmed entertainment library revenues rose 10% to $148.6 million — also one of its top performances.

Besides “Catching Fire,” Lionsgate said contributions came from the U.S. releases of “Ender’s Game” and “A Madea Christmas and “strong” international performances from “Red 2,” “Escape Plan” and “Now You See Me.”

Lionsgate is developing a sequel for “Now You See Me,” which grossed $117 million in the U.S. and $234 million internationally.

Adjusted EBITDA rose 77% to $154.1 million. Lionsgate also reported that it had shaed $373 million from its corporate debt during the 2013 calendar year, adding that its the principal amount outstanding on its $800 million revolving credit facility was $194.1 million on Dec. 31 and less than $70 million as of Wednesday.

Lionsgate reported that its filmed entertainment backlog — or already contracted future revenue not yet recorded — had increased to $1.2 billion as of the end of  2013.

Revenue in the TV production segment gained 17% to $82.3 million and cited domestic and international television gains that offset a decline in home entertainment revenue. It noted that episodes of “Anger Management,” “Nashville” and “Orange Is the New Black” were among the shows delivered in the quarter.

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