“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and other holiday hits lifted profits and revenues at Regal Entertainment Group during the exhibitor’s fourth quarter.
Total revenue climbed 6.1% to $848.2 million compared to $799.1 million for the year-ago period. Net income clocked in at $55 million, up from $46.3 million a year ago, while earnings per share hit 36 cents. They were 30 cents during the same quarter in 2015.
That beat Wall Street’s projections. Analysts predicted that Regal, the country’s largest theater chain, would post earnings of 33 cents and revenue of $842.3 million. There were other reasons for shareholders to get excited: In addition to the solid results, Regal said it would pay a cash dividend of 22 cents per share on March 14.
The stronger numbers were driven by the popularity of the movies and Regal’s investment in expanded concessions items. Like other theater chains, the company has added more food and beverage options to its menu. That paid off. Admissions at the company increased 2.7% during the quarter to $545.6 million, while concessions revenue rose 8.6% to $241.1 million.
In a call with investors on Tuesday, Regal CEO Amy Miles said the record-breaking $11.1 billion domestic box office, as well as 4% rise in attendance, was evidence of the movie business’ “long-term stability.” She did note that the success of last year’s slate of films would lead to “difficult comparisons” in 2016.
Shares of Regal closed Tuesday up 1.86% at $18.07.