AMC Entertainment shares tumbled to record lows on Wednesday after the world’s largest movie theater owner said it expects to report a much larger-than-expected quarterly loss amid an unusually weak box office.
AMC’s second-quarter earnings aren’t due until Aug. 7 but the company startled investors by announcing Tuesday it would swing to a net loss of up to $178.5 million, or $1.36 per share, after posting a profit of $24.0 million, or $0.24 a share, a year ago.
The company said the loss reflects theater industry trends, with the U.S. box office declining approximately 4.4% in the second quarter, compared to the same period in 2016.
“European box office trends improved in the countries served by AMC, growing by a double-digit percentage year-over-year,” AMC said in a news release. “That growth did not produce as big a benefit as it might have otherwise, because the second quarter is seasonally often the smallest quarter of the year.”
Analysts had forecast a loss of only 3 cents a share. In trading Wednesday, AMC stock fell as much as 27% from Tuesday’s close, trading at its lowest level since going public in 2013.
As MarketWatch reports, “Declining domestic box office trends and the threat from digital disruption and shrinking theatrical release windows have all put pressure on the sector.” Some investors are concerned that Hollywood studios will offer movies to home viewers within the traditional 90-day exclusivity window for theatrical exhibition.
AMC also said it expects the third quarter to be “very challenging” and that the North American box office for the full year will come in at $11.2 billion — down 1.8% from 2016.
But some analysts are not hitting the panic button, noting that AMC’s cost-cutting and revenue enhancements, which began in July, should help earnings in the second half of 2017.
“With higher costs and a weaker third-quarter box office outlook now baked in as well as a positive outlook on the 2018 box office, we believe we could be near a bottoming out,” RBC analyst Leo Kulp wrote in a client note.