Ups and downs at Regal

Ad revs offset B.O. dip in exhib giant's 2nd quarter

Regal Entertainment Group met Wall Street earnings estimates for the second quarter despite a drop in revenue reflecting a slack summer season at the box office.

Declining ticket sales were offset by higher ad revs, which helped the exhib giant to quarterly net income of $26.4 million, more than tripling last year’s $7.4 million. Last year’s results were weakened by a $76 million charge to pay off debt.

Total revenue, however, was down 4.5% to $643.1 million.

Regal also announced that it would begin paying shareholders a quarterly dividend of 30¢ per share.

Revenue decreases came in admissions (down 6.8% to $419.7 million) and concessions (down 9.6% to $171.6 million) but were offset by increases in revs from in-cinema advertising.

Knoxville, Tenn.-based Regal said proceeds from National CineMedia — a joint venture with AMC Theaters and Cinemark USA — totaled $29.4 million, up 30% from last year.

Also offsetting the decline in admissions was a 5.2% increase in average ticket prices.

With several event films on their way for the end of 2005 — including Universal’s “King Kong,” Warner Bros.’ “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” and Disney’s “Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” — Regal execs said they expect the box office to show gains in the next two quarters vs. 2004 results.

Regal shares closed up 78¢ on Thursday at $19.19.