Wall Street Stays Bullish On Lionsgate

Wall Street has remained bullish on Lionsgate on the eve of the DVD release of the final “Twilight” movie.

Shares surged 68 cents to $21.65 in trading Friday for a gain of more than 3%. It was another all-time high for the issue, which has set more than a dozen record closes this year.

The DVD release of “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2” caps a franchise that’s generated sales of 50 million DVD and Blu-ray copies for the first four films. The final Twilight movie will be released on Blu-ray Disc, 2-disc DVD, Video On Demand and digital download from the Summit label. The Blu-ray and DVD will include hours of bonus materials.

The Saturday street date allows for midnight events at retailers nationwide. Lionsgate has already said that “Breaking Dawn – Part 2,” which has taken in more than $820 million worldwide, will make the “Twilight” saga the top-selling home entertainment franchise since 2009.

The Blu-ray and DVD, which will include a seven-part making-of documentary, carry suggested retail prices of $39.99 and $30.98, respectively. Lionsgate announced last week that “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 Extended Edition” would also be available on March 2.

The stock is now trading at more than triple the price of $7 a share in late August, 2011, when the company bought out Carl Icahn’s 33% stake for $309 million. Lionsgate stock then rose about 20% to $8.60 before it bought Summit Entertainment — originator of the “Twilight” franchise — for $412.5 million in January, 2012.

The company’s most recent earnings report easily topped Wall Street estimates thanks to the final “Twilight” film with earnings of $37.8 million, or 28¢ a share, on revenues of $743.6 million and EBITDA of $87.2 million for its third quarter ended Dec. 31.

Analysts have expressed confidence that Lionsgate will be able to mirror the success of launching more young-adult franchises and cited efforts to leverage its content into digital media initiatives; strengthening Lionsgate’s capital structure, including the recent completion of a new five-year, $800 million revolving credit facility.

Lionsgate has also maintained continuity in management team with several recent deals announced — chief financial officer James Keegan, Michael Burns as vice chair, Wayne Levin as general counsel and chief strategic officer, Brian Goldsmith as co-chief operating officer and Jason Constantine as prexy of acquisitions and co-prod for its motion picture group.

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