After seeing shares fall 18%, Lions Gate Entertainment (NYSE:LGF) is on reverse course from its impressive 2013 year where shares rose 88%. The company continues to be judged solely on its Hunger Games and Divergent franchises, after watching the Twilight franchise come to a close. Two recent moves by Lions Gate have boosted the film's lineup and could provide the lift shareholders need.
Lions Gate is bringing the popular '90s television show "Power Rangers" back to the big screen in a reboot. The popular brand connects a popular brand with a dedicated base with Lions Gate, a brand that has had success with young adult brands like Twilight, The Hunger Games, and Divergent.
Power Rangers has huge potential for Lions Gate as a franchise, if it takes it in a young adult model to appeal to the millions of current millennials that grew up watching the show and also cater to current teenagers watching the show on Nickelodeon. Power Rangers is the number one live action/kids action show currently on television. The show has been seen in 150 countries and can also currently be seen on Netflix streaming.
In 2015, Power Rangers will mark its 22nd straight season on television with Nickelodeon's "Power Ranger's Dino Charge". Since its premiere in 1993, there have been over 780 episodes of the various Power Rangers shows.
To go along with the 780 episodes on television starring the Power Rangers, there have been two theatrical releases. The 1995 "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers Movie" grossed $38.2 million in domestic markets and $28.2 million in foreign markets. "Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie", released in 1997, grossed only $8.4 million in domestic markets and $9.6 million overall. Obviously there will be higher expectations this time around for a brand that should be a $200-$300 million blockbuster. This Forbes article seems to think $500 million worldwide wouldn't be out of the question. I believe the brand can turn into a franchise or possibly a trilogy to start. A first movie should gross somewhere in the $225 million domestic, $150 million foreign ballpark.
The announcement of the Power Rangers movie is a big win for Haim Saban, the man behind the superhero brand. He lost his beloved Power Rangers when he sold Fox Family to Disney (NYSE:DIS). In 2010, he reacquired the rights to Power Rangers as he believed the brand could see a strong revival.
While the Power Rangers addition to Lions Gate was the big news, the company also has another movie added to its lineup that I believe could help pad earnings for the current fiscal year. The company won the United States distribution rights for the controversial documentary "America: Imagine a World Without Her."
The movie was written and directed by Dinesh D'Souza and John Sullivan. D'Souza is a controversial figure and best known for his 2012 documentary "2016: Obama's America". The movie will open in limited theaters on June 27th and expand to a wide release on July 2nd, just in time for the American independence celebration on the 4th.
The movie is starting to see a lot of press coverage and a new trailer should get the word out more. A movie trailer for "America" shows the rebels losing the Revolutionary War and our first president and war hero George Washington being shot to his death. D'Souza's last movie grossed $33.4 million in domestic markets and is the number four highest grossing documentary of all time.
If anyone can make a documentary work here it is Lions Gate. The company was behind Fahrenheit 9/11, the Michael Moore documentary, and Religilous, from Bill Maher. Fahrenheit 9/11 went on to be the top grossing documentary of all time. The controversial film grossed $119.2 million in the United States and $103.3 million in foreign markets. The movie remains the fifth highest domestic grossing film for Lions Gate.
The key here for Lions Gate is that production budgets for documentaries are very small and "America" could turn up some big profits. "Fahrenheit 9/11" had a $6 million budget and was quite profitable with its total box office revenue of $222.4 million. Hard to believe, but the movie actually opened ahead of "The Notebook" and "Dodgeball's" second weekend, despite only being in 868 theaters.
In my recent third quarter earnings article for Lions Gate, I highlighted the company's upcoming slate of films as one of five keys for investing in the company. Here is a look at some of the big movies to be released in the rest of 2014:
· 7/25 "Step Up All In"
· 8/15 "The Expendables 3"
· 8/29 "Addicted"
· 11/21 "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1"
Lions Gate doesn't have the strongest lineup for 2014 or 2015, but does have some exciting future franchises like "Gods of Egypt", "Chaos Walking", and now Power Rangers). After holding a 9.8% market share of the U.S. box office in 2013 with $1.07 billion, Lions Gate has fallen to number seven to date in 2014. The company has grossed $274.2 million and holds an 8.2% market share so far on the year. However, "Divergent" is the company's only movie that grossed over $100 million in domestic markets. The company has only three movies in 2014 that grossed more than $25 million domestically, and one of those is "Catching Fire", which was released last November.
Shares of Lions Gate Entertainment have fallen 18% in 2014 as investors seem disappointed with the results from "Divergent". The movie did not perform as high as many hoped and is behind where the first Hunger Games movie was at the time. However, the trilogy of books will make four movies that will help Lions Gate's slate going forward. Add in other exciting movies and several other variables and shares look attractive. To reiterate my five key takeaways from my third quarter write-up, Lions Gate is a worthy investment because of:
· The Hunger Games franchise
· Divergent and future movies in the franchise
· Future franchises
· Financial health
Analysts are expecting revenue to grow only 2% in fiscal 2014 and 7% in fiscal 2015. Strong results from "America" and a release date of the Power Rangers movie in 2015 or 2016 could boost shares higher and help provide updated earnings and revenue figures from analysts. Lions Gate remains my largest stock holding in my portfolio and I believe shares should be bought here.
Disclosure: I am long LGF. 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.