Lionsgate cruised past Wall Street estimates for the fiscal first quarter, on strong subscriber growth at Starz and improved film results paced by the blockbuster returns of the third John Wick installment.
On an adjusted, diluted basis, the company’s loss of two cents exceeded analysts’ consensus forecasts for four cents. Adjusted operating income of $67.3 million beat the forecast for $63.6 million.
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The beat on total revenue was smaller, but significant, with the quarter’s $963.6 million beating consensus of $962.6 million.
Domestically, Starz gained 400,000 streaming subscribers to reach 4.4 million. Globally and across all platforms, Starz is now at 26.5 million subscribers after adding 2.6 million compared with the year-ago period.
The strategy at Starz, which Lionsgate acquired in 2016 for $4.4 billion, is a central feature of the Lionsgate story. The company has said it plans to invest heavily in the rollout of Starz streaming globally, targeting 20 million subscribers in five years.
At the same time, talks were held recently with CBS over a potential acquisition of the premium brand. Both companies could be asked about it during their respective conference calls with analysts. CBS reported strong second quarter results at the same time as CBS.
For Lionsgate, the quarterly performance should keep some of the bears at bay for the time being. The company’s stock has been battered recently as it has managed through a period of uncertainty and a turnaround at the film division under Joe Drake. In Thursday trading, it gained 5% to finish at $12.66 and added another 4% after hours.
The independent company, which has pulled off several acquisitions of its own, has also been mentioned frequently as a potential takeover target.