Imax dipped in red ink

Increase in theater operations revenue is bright spot

TORONTO — Imax shed some red ink in the first quarter of 2004 after the company’s revenue took a tumble. But company brass said the large-screen movie company is on target and is holding fast to its year-end projections.

Company’s shares on the Nasdaq closed down 8.45% Thursday at $4.44 after Toronto-based Imax reported that it lost $896,000 during the quarter ended March 31 compared with earnings of $2.4 million in the year-earlier quarter. Revenues slipped 26% to $24.9 million.

Systems revenue, down 28% at $16 million, took the hardest hit, due to the recognition of income from two new theater systems vs. eight a year earlier. Film revenue dropped 34% to $4.5 million in a quarter that could not match the B.O. success of last year’s “Space Station.”

The one bright spot was an increase in theater operations revenue, which climbed 16% to $3.7 million.

Imax said the numbers are in line with its projections, and guidance for the year’s earnings and revenue is holding steady. Company expects earnings for the calendar year of $9.3 million-$13.4 million from continuing operations on revenues of $130 million-$140 million.