Shares of Imax Corporation (NYSE:IMAX) hit new fifty two week highs once again on Thursday. The company, who had seen shares trade between $18.29 and $26.68, reached as high as $26.73. Shares closed at $26.09 Thursday and will likely see heavy volume Friday after Thursday's earnings are digested by shareholders and analysts.
In the fourth quarter, Imax posted revenue of $77.8 million. This easily beat the $73.99 million that analysts were projecting. Earnings per share hit $0.23 in the fourth quarter. Analysts were calling for $0.16.On the fiscal year, Imax posted revenue of $284.3 million, an increase of 20% from fiscal 2011. Analysts were expecting revenue of $280.1 million. Earnings per share on the year grew 95% to $0.80. Analysts predicted $0.74. Analysts on Yahoo Finance expect the company to earn $0.98 per share from $310.69 million in fiscal 2013.
In the fourth quarter, Imax installed 46 new theaters, including 43 at new locations. For the fiscal year, Imax installed 125. Imax added a total of 125 theater commitments in fiscal 2012. The company's backlog grew to an impressive 263.
At the end of 2012, there were 731 Imax theaters in operation. This added with the backlog of 263 represents a total of 994. Imax believes it can reach 1700. The company is 59% of the way to its goal with many international markets picking up commitments last year.
I think Imax executives put their theater count into perspective the best during their conference call. Back in 2008 when the blockbuster movie "The Dark Knight" was released, it opened on 135 Imax screens. Five years later, blockbusters open on over 700 Imax screens.
One of the biggest keys to the fourth quarter earnings beat was the company's join revenue sharing model. Under these theaters, Imax pays for most of the construction and gets a higher percentage of box office and concession revenue in return. Fourth quarter joint revenue increased 103.4% to $17.0 million. This made up 22% of the fourth quarter revenue. In the fourth quarter, Imax installed 29 theaters under the joint revenue sharing model. The company had a total of 316 screens operating under this model. Joint revenue theaters usually pay 10-12% of box office totals to Imax.
I highlighted the strong 2013 lineup of Imax movies recently. Among the movies released will be "Jack the Giant Slayer", "Oz: The Great and Powerful", and "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" all in March. Over the summer, the company has true blockbusters in "Iron Man 3", "Star Trek: Into Darkness", and "Man of Steel". However, Imax currently has only one movie booked in both June and July. These hot summer months present a key opportunity for Imax and its shares. The company will likely announce at least one movie for each of the months, which could provide a nice boost on two separate occasions.
Year to date, shares of Imax are now up 11%. It has been almost two years (July 2011) since Imax traded above the $30 mark. At that time, the company was a buyout target and was seeing strong demand for its product. Did shares really run-up that much because of buyout rumors? Since that time, the company has increased revenue, greatly expanded its theater count, and expanded the number of movies shown on its screen each year.
I remain bullish on shares of Imax and have held shares for over five years. This is a great growth stock that is less than 50% to its mature theater count. This won't be the first time I mention this, but the movie industry will see a huge year in 2015 with "The Avengers 2" and "Star Wars VII". Imax has the possibility to have both of these movies on its screen. Between now and then, the company has more than enough blockbusters, regional films, and re-releases to maximize shareholder returns.
Disclosure: I am long IMAX. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.