Shares of indie digital distributor Cinedigm closed down 22% Thursday, before surging 53% in after-hours trading to $1.38 per share after the company reported results for the quarter and full year ended March 31.
For the three-month period, Cinedigm’s fiscal fourth quarter of 2016, the company posted revenue of $23.2 million (down 16% year over year) and a net loss of $6.15 million (versus a net loss of $11.1 million in year-earlier period). The results reflect its struggle to find traction with its over-the-top business strategy, and the company said it’s in the process of raising up to $11 million in additional debt for working capital.
Also Thursday, Cinedigm announced that its largest shareholder, Ron Chez, is joining the company’s board as lead independent director. Chez, along with another investor, Sabra Capital, had criticized the company’s stock performance and pushed for a $15 million share buy-back, tighter cost controls and more board representation. Last July, Cinedigm reached an agreement with the activist investors under which it appointed four new independent directors: Blair Westlake, Andrew Schuon, Patrick O’Brien and Sabra Capital’s Zvi Rhine.
Adjusted earnings for the year ended March 31, 2016, fell 9.4% compared to the prior fiscal year, which Cinedigm said reflected an investment in the ramp-up of its OTT business. Last year, it operated one OTT channel, Docurama, and has since launched CONtv, dedicated to coverage of all things related to Comic Con franchises, and the family-and-faith oriented Dove Channel. Revenue for fiscal year 2016 was $104.4 million, down 1%, with a net loss of $42.1 million versus a net loss of $31.7 million for fiscal 2015.
Even with the after-hours spike, Cinedigm shares remain near their lowest all-time levels, down from a 52-week high of $7.50 per share. Furthermore, Cinedigm enacted a 1-for-10 reverse split in May designed to remain in compliance with Nasdaq listing rules, effectively diluting the stock’s value, as the share price has continued to decline.
Cinedigm chairman and CEO Chris McGurk, on a conference call with analysts Thursday, said the company had invested less than $10 million in its OTT business in fiscal year 2016, and that the company expects to spend less than $5 million for the current fiscal year while he expects those channels to see subscriber growth. “It’s the future of the entertainment industry,” McGurk said about OTT.
The company said it now has approximately 2.5 million installs across the three over-the-top channels — Docurama, CONtv and Dove Channel — with an estimated 50,000 active subscribers across those services. Dove Channel, launched in September 2015, has over 1 million installations on Android, iOS and Roku, with more than 344,000 registered users and an estimated 35,000 active subscribers, according to the company.
Cinedigm said it made payments of $62.3 million to its long-term debt arrangements for the 12 months ended March 31. It said it improved the liquidity from its existing revolving credit facility by $6.2 million through June 30, 2017, and said it is planning to raise up to $11 million in second lien-secured debt, with $4.5 million in funding already committed or funded. Chez and McGurk will both invest in the new credit facility. As of March 31, 2016, Cinedigm had $170.2 million in total debt, compared with $139.4 million a year earlier.
On the expense side, the company said it’s on track to achieve at least $10 million in annual cost savings, through steps including staff reductions in its New York and L.A. offices, that were initiated in the fiscal year 2016. As of March 31, 2016 Cinedigm had 126 employees (118 full-time and eight part-time) compared with 141 (127 full-time and 14 part-time) a year earlier.
“We believe our financing efforts, streamlined operations and ability to take advantage of a much stronger competitive market position has primed Cinedigm to attract significant new business and enhance shareholder value,” McGurk said in announcing the results. “We hope the benefits of these initiatives to our balance sheet and business prospects will soon become crystal clear.”
On the earnings call, McGurk touted Cinedigm’s deal to offer the three OTT channels through Amazon’s Prime, which started in December 2015, claiming results so far have exceeded expectations. “If we can transact two or three more of these deals on other platforms… we think that will really jump-start” the OTT business, McGurk said.
Earlier this week, Cinedigm announced a deal to acquire 45 films and 10 series from Bridgestone Multimedia Group, a producer and distributor of family-friendly, faith-based films, to expand the lineup on the Dove Channel. Those titles include “Road to the Open” starring Eric Roberts, Judd Nelson and John Schneider, “Pitching Love and Catching Faith,” and series “The Sugar Creek Gang” and “Character Builders.”