AMC in post-boat dip as net loss rises

Disappointed but excited about 'Star Wars,' co-chair sez

NEW YORK — AMC Entertainment’s net loss increased more than fivefold to $19.1 million in the three months to April 1, the exhib said Tuesday, despite 7% growth in revenues to $234 million.

AMC blamed the wider loss on the industry-wide post-“Titanic” slump, noting admission revenues fell 6% across the industry during the quarter. Indeed AMC’s revenue growth was sustained on a circuit operating 8% more screens than in the same quarter a year earlier, implying the exhib generated lower revenue per screen in the latest quarter.

AMC co-chairman Peter Brown said the results were “disappointing (but) we are extremely excited about the upcoming film product, particularly ‘Star Wars: Episode 1 — Phantom Menace.’ ”

Hope floats

Exhib industry execs are hoping the Star Wars prequel and other summer pics will revive the industry’s financial fortunes in the June quarter after a generally poor March quarter. AMC stock fell 43 cents to $18.56 Tuesday.

At the end of the latest quarter, which also concluded AMC’s fiscal 1999 year, the exhib said its megaplexes accounted for 49% of its theater circuit of 2,645 screens in 217 theaters. More importantly, AMC noted the megaplexes accounted for 50% of attendance but 57% of cash flow.

In the latest quarter, cash flow — earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization — dropped more than half to $10 million in the quarter. Operational costs rose 14% during the quarter while overhead expenses also rose 10%.

The bottom line loss was also inflated by sharply higher interest expense of $12.4 million and a $4.9 million accounting charge for reduction in the value of older theaters.

For the year AMC’s loss fell 34% to $16 million, partly because the exhib incurred a bigger accounting charge for reduction in value of theaters in fiscal 1998. Revenues rose 20% to $1.02 billion.