Exhibition chain Regal Entertainment Group reported Thursday that its first-quarter earnings of $23.1 million, or 15 cents a share, were above Wall Street forecasts of 12 cents a share.
Revenues were down 5% to $691.3 million for an 89-day quarter, but the 91-day year-ago period included six days during the 2013 holiday season. Regal had reported a 2014 first-quarter loss of $1.2 million, which included a $32.6 million after-tax loss on extinguishment of debt; adjusted EBITDA declined 11% to $128.1 million.
CEO Amy Miles has issued an upbeat forecast for the rest of 2015: “A better than expected box office environment and our focus on delivering a great customer experience helped us achieve solid first-quarter results, highlighted by a record concession per cap and one of the highest first-quarter revenue totals in our history,” she said. “With a great first-quarter box office already in the books and a much-anticipated film slate set for the upcoming summer and holiday seasons, we remain optimistic regarding the potential for box office success throughout 2015.”
Miles said in a conference call with analysts that the box office “lived up to the hype.” She also said that Regal will continue to explore acquisitions that would be “accretive” to earnings.
Regal put itself up for sale last fall but took itself off the sales block in January.
Miles also disclosed that more than half of Regal’s ticket sales are being made through mobile devices and added that the chain will focus more of its resources toward that sector.
The earnings report, released after the market closed Thursday, also included the announcement that Regal’s board declared a cash dividend of 22 cents a share for Class A and Class B common share, payable on June 12 to stockholders of record as of June 2. The chain said it plans to continue paying the dividend in future quarters.
“The company intends to pay a regular quarterly dividend for the foreseeable future at the discretion of the board of directors depending on available cash, anticipated cash needs, overall financial condition, loan agreement restrictions, future prospects for earnings and cash flows as well as other relevant factors,” Regal said in a statement.
Regal is the largest chain in the U.S. and currently operates 570 locations with 7,334 screens.