Shares of the theater chain Cinemark Holdings Inc. jumped 6% after the company delivered a fourth-quarter earnings report that was well above Wall Street estimates and raised its dividend.
Shares closed up $2.55 to $42.27 in trading Friday on the New York Stock Exchange. Shares have not traded in that range since last May.
In a report issued Friday before the market opened, Texas-based Cinemark reported earnings of $95.1 million, or 82 cents a share, up 23% from $77 million, or 66 cents a share, in the year-earlier period. Revenue rose 7% to $750 million from $700.9 million. The consensus had been for earnings of 48 cents and revenue of $746 million.
“We are thrilled to report our third consecutive year of record results in worldwide revenues, net income and earnings per share,” said CEO Mark Zoradi. “We were able to deliver these all-time highs in a box office environment that declined slightly year-over-year due to the successful execution of our strategic initiatives and the underlying strength of Cinemark’s operating fundamentals.”
During an analyst call to discuss Cinemark’s latest financial results, Zoradi was optimistic about box office prospects for 2018, asserting that theatrical exhibition remains stable and profitable. He cited the strong performance of Disney-Marvel’s “Black Panther,” which has taken in $520 million worldwide in less than two weeks.
The company also raised its dividend by 10% to $1.28 a share on an annualized basis. The fourth-quarter dividend of 32 cents will be paid on March 22 to shareholders of record as of March 8.
Thanks to the worst summer for moviegoing in a decade, U.S. movie admissions slid 6% last year to 1.24 billion for the lowest number since 1995, the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) reported on Jan. 17. North American box office for the year declined 2.55% to $11.09 billion, NATO said.
Cinemark has 533 theaters and 5,959 screens in the U.S. and Latin America. It’s the third-largest chain in the U.S. with 339 theaters and 4,561 screens in 41 states.