AMC/Avengers: Endgame Propelling Box Office Numbers

Avengers: Endgame has shattered virtually every box office record with the elusive worldwide top grosser, Avatar in its sights. Avengers: Endgame and its unheard of box office numbers came on the heels of Captain Marvel which initially pumped life back into the domestic box office, delivering an epic $153 million opening weekend debut, while hauling in $455 million worldwide. AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. (AMC) stands to benefit significantly across its business segments due to the popularity of the Marvel franchise and a robust slate of movies for the remainder of 2019. AMC will likely have a nice catalyst as the slate of 2019 movies roll out, and the box office numbers strengthen over the next nine months. To smooth out these box office revenue fluctuations, AMC has a rapidly growing loyalty program with over 800,000 members to evolve a large segment of its business mix towards a subscription-based model. This will allow durable and predictable revenue streams in the backdrop of changing box office dynamics. AMC offers a great dividend yield of over 5% and accelerating revenue and EPS growth. The company is reengaging the consumer via digital, mobile, and loyalty program options, reformatting theaters to enhance the user experience and international expansion augmented by a healthy share buyback program. The stock looks very attractive, considering its depressed valuation, solid Q1 earnings, and company initiatives to drive the consumer experience. The long term growth narrative remains intact while revenue continues to grow at a healthy clip with a healthy 9-month movie slate ahead for the remainder of 2019.

Impressive Back-to-Back Quarterly Numbers

AMC has been firing on all segments of its business on improving fundamentals across the entire enterprise over the previous two quarters. For Q4 2018, AMC beat on both the top and bottom line with EPS beating by $0.22 and revenue beating by $10 million. Q4 attendance in the U.S. set a record for the fourth quarter and coupled with the quarterly numbers; the stock popped 10%. Q1 2019, historically its weakest quarter was going against a very tough comparable year-ago quarter that included Black Panther. Considering this tough year-over-year comparable, attendance per screen declined 10.1%, and total attendance was down 12.2% year-over-year. However, food and beverage per attendee came in at a record for Q1. Taken together, revenue was down 13% at $1.2 billion however this beat consensus estimates by $10 million.

Looking ahead, AMC expects better traffic. "We have high expectations for 2019, due to an extraordinary slate of movies coming, the timing of releases within the film slate suggests that it will be a back-end loaded year," says CEO Adam Aron.

“Even with the anticipated slow start to the year, we have been and continue to be quite bullish about the full year prospects for AMC. Also, the first quarter of 2019 faced a tough year-over-year comparison, as Black Panther last year made the first quarter of 2018, the second highest grossing first quarter of all time. As we thought it was likely for our U.S. theatres, in our largest market by far, the U.S. industry box office declined a healthy 16.2% this quarter. Even so, we are comforted that AMC continued to outperform the U.S. industry box office, notably with domestic attendance per screen declining only 10.1% in the first quarter of 2019. Additionally, our U.S. food and beverage capture of $5.23 per patron set a new first-quarter record for our company. This all is largely attributable to the power of the AMC platform: stemming from experiential initiatives and enhancements at our theatres; a frictionless use of technology to communicate, engage and sell to our guests; combined with the soaring popularity of our AMC Stubs loyalty program and our AMC Stubs A-List subscription program.”

“Accordingly, we continue to be excited about the remainder of 2019, which we believe might be the highest grossing 9-month period in cinema history. We are optimistic that the full year 2019 box office will be at least as strong as 2018, and potentially could be the first year ever that the domestic box office breaks $12 billion.”
Adam Aron, CEO, and President of AMC

It’s noteworthy to point out that the full year of 2018, the U.S. box office was up 6.9% to $11.9 billion, marking the highest grossing year ever recorded with February, April, June, and October setting all-time box office monthly records. Given the slate of movies over the next 9-month period, AMC thinks it’s entirely possible to eclipse the full year 2018 numbers.

2019 Box Office Comes Alive

Disney (DIS) has finally released its first highly anticipated film of 2019 with Captain Marvel (the first female lead for a Marvel film). The film has performed exceptionally well, delivering an opening weekend box office gross of $457 million worldwide and $153 million domestically. The first two months of the year for the domestic box office has been a struggle relative to 2018. Captain Marvel brought in the third highest March opening of all-time and placed the film on par with past blockbusters such as The Dark Knight, The Hunger Games and Rouge One. On the heels of Captain Marvel was, of course, the elephant in the room, Avengers: Endgame which shattered nearly every record at the box office and aiming to take out Avatar as the highest grossing movie of all-time (Figure 1). Avengers: Endgame has generated $780 million at the domestic box office and $2.62 billion worldwide. On the domestic front, the film stands as the second highest grossing film behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens with $936.6 million. On the international front, the film currently stands in a close second behind Avatar with $2.788 billion. Disney alone has Aladdin, Toy Story 4, Lion King, Frozen 2 and Star Wars Episode 9 in its slate of films that will bode well for the box office on the domestic front as these films stand to rack in billions in box office receipts.

Box Office
Figure 1 – Avengers: Endgame shattered nearly every box office record domestically and internationally

Loyalty Game-Changer

AMC’s loyalty program now has over 800,000 subscribers, which is expected to generate more than $150 million of annual recurring revenue. This will provide further penetration on the revenue front in excess of $300 million when factoring in food and beverage purchases and full fare tickets purchased by bring-along guests such as family and friends. The loyalty program provides an opportunity to shift a segment of its business mix to a subscription-based model, providing durable and predictable revenue streams, mitigating box office fluctuations, and driving long-term customer loyalty. Under this ticket subscription program, members can attend up to three movies per week in every available showtime and format. These membership numbers far exceed the company’s goal of 500,000 by mid-June 2019.

Due in large part to the loyalty program, B. Riley FBR upgraded shares of AMC to a buy. Summer is coming and "The impressive advance ticket sales for Avengers: Endgame signals the start of the spring/summer period and we are increasingly optimistic around the potential contribution of Stubs A-List," analyst Eric Wold says. The company will keep maximizing the attractiveness of the subscription plan "as well as the efficiency/profitability of the plan to the company." The firm raised its price target to $20 from $18.

Conclusion

Avengers: Endgame provided a much-needed jolt to start off the remaining 9-month period to close out 2019. AMC is optimistic that the strong slate of movies coming out over the next nine months may propel the year-end box office numbers to eclipse the record numbers seen in 2018. AMC is sitting on a host of positive tailwinds despite the slow start to the 2019 box office numbers domestically. A large slate of movies is just now beginning to be released with Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame. AMC is reengaging the consumer via digital, mobile, and loyalty program options, reformatting theaters to enhance the user experience and international expansion. The loyalty program now has over 800,000 members and provides an opportunity to shift a segment of its business mix to a subscription-based model, providing durable and predictable revenue streams, mitigating box office fluctuations and driving long-term customer loyalty. The stock is a compelling buy with a dividend yield of over 5% and accelerating revenue and EPS growth. The stock looks very attractive considering its depressed valuation, industry strength forecasted through 2019 coupled with a slew of company initiatives to drive the consumer experience.

Check out my previous article on AMC here.

Noah Kiedrowski
INO.com Contributor

Disclosure: The author does not hold shares in any of the mentioned stocks or ETFs. However, he may engage in options trading in any of the underlying securities. The author has no business relationship with any companies mentioned in this article. He is not a professional financial advisor or tax professional. This article reflects his own opinions. This article is not intended to be a recommendation to buy or sell any stock or ETF mentioned. Kiedrowski is an individual investor who analyzes investment strategies and disseminates analyses. Kiedrowski encourages all investors to conduct their own research and due diligence prior to investing. Please feel free to comment and provide feedback, the author values all responses. The author is the founder of www.stockoptionsdad.com where options are a bet on where stocks won’t go, not where they will. Where high probability options trading for consistent income and risk mitigation thrives in both bull and bear markets. For more engaging, short duration options based content, visit stockoptionsdad’s YouTube channel.

Facebook - Privacy Scandal Amnesia

Facebook Inc. (FB) crushed its Q1 2019 earnings estimates on both top line revenue and bottom line profit. Revenue grew 26% year-over-year, giving rise to investor amnesia as it relates to its string of privacy scandals. Facebook is now testing its all-time highs with a reasonable price-to-earnings multiple when compared to its tech cohort. As the company attempts to move past its privacy issues while restoring trust with its user base, negative sentiment has abated. Facebook continues to post unparalleled growth for a company of its size while its platforms are the go-to properties for advertisers and influencers. Will Facebook be able to march forward without being plagued by the slew of issues ranging from international regulatory scrutiny, user privacy issues, high-level employee mass exodus, and a questionably toxic company culture? Some analysts argue that the negative confluence of the aforementioned issues will drive up costs, narrow revenue streams, and weaken the user base. The privacy scandal has already resulted in increased costs surrounding compliance, monitoring, censorship, and scrubbing the platform from deceptive marketing. If the company continues its path forward on the privacy front while posting best-in-class revenue growth, the stock will likely continue to elevate higher.

Q1 Blowout Quarter

Facebook continues to deliver phenomenal growth across the company while its cash hoard swells to $45 billion. The company posted EPS and revenue of $1.89 and $15.08 billion, respectively. These numbers beat on EPS by $0.27 and beat on revenue by $104.3 million.

"We had a good quarter, and our business and community continue to grow," said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder, and CEO. "We are focused on building out our privacy-focused vision for the future of social networking, and working collaboratively to address important issues around the internet."

The stock exploded higher on the earnings news, shooting from $182 to $195 or 7% in a single session. Facebook’s properties continue to grow and continue to expand its revenue moat in advertising spend. Instagram and Whatsapp will likely serve as major growth catalysts as these assets still have a lot of room for its monetization efforts. Continue reading "Facebook - Privacy Scandal Amnesia"

7 Essentials For Effective Options Trading

I’ll be discussing a comprehensive options strategy and key fundamentals for long-term successful options trading. These essentials will enable your portfolio to appreciate steadily month after month for consistent portfolio appreciation. Since options are a bet on where stocks won’t go, not where they will go, this is accomplished without predicting which way the market will move. These fundamentals provide long-term durable high-probability win rates to generate consistent income while mitigating drastic market moves. Following these option trading essentials, I’ve demonstrated an 87% options win rate over the previous 7 months through both bull and bear markets while outperforming the S&P 500 over the same period by a wide margin producing a 6.4% return against a 1.0% for the S&P 500.

Empirical Application

Applying these 7 essentials, long-term options trading success can be achieved to generate consistent income and mitigate risk in a high-probability manner. I was able to win 87% of my options trades while capturing 59% of premium income (Figure 1). This was achieved by trading options in a diversity of tickers for a total of 66 stock and ETFs. These essentials resulted in a wide outperformance relative to the S&P 500, posting a 6.4% return compared to a 1% return for the S&P 500 (Figure 2).

Options Trading
Figure 1 – Metrics across the options based strategy over the previous 7 months Continue reading "7 Essentials For Effective Options Trading"

Hasbro Is Going On The Offensive

Hasbro (HAS) is turning the corner and going on the offensive with a slew of revenue verticals with its Disney toy licensing deal (Marvel, Star Wars and Disney Princess lines), Hasbro Studios (Transformers’ Bumblebee, My Little Pony, Power Rangers), E-Sports (Dungeons and Dragons and Magic: The Gathering) and reinventing its legacy games (Monopoly and Nerf) while driving newer products (Beyblades). Hasbro blew out expectations for its Q1 2019 earnings and the stock jumped 16% breaking out above the $100 threshold, a level that hasn’t been seen in over 6 months. Hasbro is setting the post-Toys-R-Us bankruptcy narrative and laying out a business roadmap for long term profitable growth across its brands. Hasbro has had the tough task of getting out in front of the Toys-R-Us bankruptcy and working its way through the glut of merchandise. This positive sentiment has been further bolstered by positive commentary from its CEO that the company has effectively absolved itself of the Toy-R-Us related bankruptcy headwind. Hasbro has a compelling future across its portfolio with many catalysts on the near and long term time horizons.

Q1 2019 Earnings

Hasbro posted an unexpected profit for Q1 with EPS coming in at $0.32 against expectations of -$0.11, beating estimates by $0.32 per share. Revenue also came in much higher than expected with $732.5 million and beating estimates by 66.5 million (Figure 1).

“The global Hasbro team is executing very well and delivered a good start to the year,” said Brian Goldner, Hasbro’s chairman and chief executive officer. “Our long-term investments in new platforms provided a meaningful contribution from our digital and e-sports initiative, Magic: The Gathering Arena, as well as growth in MAGIC: THE GATHERING tabletop revenues. In addition, MONOPOLY, PLAY-DOH and TRANSFORMERS were among the brands posting revenue gains this quarter. We are beginning to see improvement in our commercial markets, notably in the U.S. and Europe, and operating profit was driven by high margin revenue growth and our cost savings activities. With most of the year ahead of us, we remain on track to deliver profitable growth for the full-year 2019.”
Continue reading "Hasbro Is Going On The Offensive"

IBM Continues To Win Over Investors

International Business Machines (IBM) continues its long turn back to growth, focusing on high-value faster-growing business segments while embracing the future of technology with AI and hybrid cloud architecture via the Red Hat acquisition. Investors are ostensibly being appeased with the blended approach of M&A, realigning its business mix to current and future trends, maintaining its dividend payout and continuing to buy back shares until the Red Hat acquisition closes. IBM’s stock has been on an upward trend after investors decided to move past its initial displeasure of announcing its RedHat acquisition when shares were sold-off and traded down to ~$108. IBM's executive leadership has set the growth and value narrative, and investors are quickly realizing the value that Red Hat brings to the table while washing away fears that IBM overpaid for the $34 billion acquisition. From the $108 dip, IBM has been in a position of strength and has broken out past $140 after its recent Q1 2019 earnings. Long-term imperatives are beginning to bear fruit in emerging high-value segments that has fundamentally changed its business mix while evolving its offerings to align with new age information technology demands. The Red Hat acquisition will augment its transition away from its dependency on legacy businesses to the future of hybrid cloud, artificial intelligence, and analytics. IBM presents a compelling investment opportunity with a 4.5% dividend yield, share buyback program and continuously acquiring companies to drive the business into the future.

Q1 2019 Earnings – Solid

IBM reported Q1 earnings that were solid, not great and investors seemed content. IBM reported EPS of $2.25 and revenue of $18.2 billion which was a -4.7% year-over-year decline while missing analysts’ targets. IBM slide the following day initially however quickly arrested that decline to rise above the $140 again. The company laid out its growth narrative and Red Hat acquisition catalysts. IBM's revenue was flat across most of its business segments; however, its Cloud revenue grew by 10%.

"In the first quarter, our cloud revenue growth accelerated, and we again grew in key, high-value areas in Cloud and Cognitive Software and in consulting,” "IBM’s investments in innovative technologies coupled with our industry expertise and our commitment to trust and security position us well to help clients move to chapter two of their digital reinvention."
Ginni Rometty, IBM chairman, president, and chief executive officer

IBM has slipped back into a revenue contraction in its last few quarters however I think there’s a lot to like moving forward. There’s a reassurance that the dividend is safe, stabilizing revenues and a lot of shots on goal for future growth especially with Red Hat coming into to fray and strategic imperatives becoming a larger segment of IBM’s overall revenue pie as this is a higher growth business (Figure 1). Continue reading "IBM Continues To Win Over Investors"