Robust subscriber growth at Starz lifted Lionsgate’s earnings at a time when movie theaters are still struggling to reemerge from their COVID-era closures and the entertainment landscape is shifting rapidly.
The better-than-expected results come as Lionsgate is seen as a potential acquisition target for tech giants and media conglomerates looking to get bigger. AT&T’s decision to spin off WarnerMedia and combine it with Discovery, as well as Amazon’s $8.45 billion purchase of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer are expected to spark a new wave of mega-deals, which could enrich Lionsgate shareholders. The company owns the rights to such franchises as “John Wick” and “The Hunger Games,” and is really digestible by Silicon Valley standards.
For the period ending in March, Lionsgate reported revenue of $876.4 million, down 7.2% from the $944.3 million that the company reported in the prior-year period. Lionsgate also reported a net loss attributable to shareholders of $37.7 million or 17 cents per share. That compared to a net loss of $44.9 million or 20 cents per share in the prior-year period.
That handily beat Wall Street projections. Analysts had expected Lionsgate to deliver revenue of $815.1 million and a net loss of 33 cents per share. The report goosed the company’s stock in after-hours trading, as shares of Lionsgate jumped more than 3% after the results were announced.
Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer danced around suggestions that Lionsgate may be an acquisition target. He noted that the recent wave of mergers and acquisitions is “a resounding affirmation about the value of content, the value of IPs, and the value of brands.” He added, “we talk to everyone, we listen to everything,” but also asserted that Lionsgate’s team will “keep our head down and just keep executing on our plan.”
Lionsgate also reported its full year earnings for its fiscal year, which ended March 31, 2021. During the period, it logged revenue of $3.3 billion, operating income of $170.6 million, and net loss attributable to Lionsgate shareholders of $18.9 million, or 9 cents per share.
The studio has remained busy during the pandemic, releasing films such as the Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo comedy “Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar” on-demand, and small screen offerings, such as the Apple series “Mythic Quest.”
Despite the box office shortfall that Lionsgate suffered from the lack of a theatrical marketplace, Lionsgate said it enjoyed subscriber growth at Starz, with the pay-TV player posting a 23% bump in global subscribers to 29.5 million during the quarter. Starz’s streaming subscriber base grew 69% year-over-year to 16.7 million. During the quarter, Lionsgate’s media networks revenue climbed 12% to $401 million thanks to the growth at Starz. It was a different picture on the film and television front, with motion picture revenues dropping more than 25% to $292.4 million and television revenues dropping more than 18% to $210.7 million.