Streaming was a silver lining for Lionsgate on Thursday in an otherwise downbeat report of its fiscal fourth quarter results, which was released Thursday and showed revenue and earnings below Wall Street expectations.
Revenue totaled $930 million in the period ending March 31, with earnings per share of 6 cents. Analysts had been calling for $961 million and 8 cents a share in those key metrics.
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The company far exceeded analysts’ consensus expectation of adding 3 million streaming subscribers in the period, tacking on 4.4 million to reach a total of 35.8 million.
Of the overall total, 12.8 million subscribers were attributed to the StarzPlay International consortium, with the remainder on Starz. The Starz subscriber levels rose 47% year over year, with StarzPlay International rising by almost double that rate.
Starz, the premium network brand acquired by Lionsgate in 2016, has been in talks in recent months for a sale of a stake or potentially a full acquisition by a new owner. Names involved in discussions include Roku, Vivendi and private equity giant Apollo.
Battered shares of Lionsgate, which have been trading at their lowest point since the final weeks of 2020, slumped another 4% during the trading day to close at $10.57. They rebounded in after-hours trading after the company said it was closing in on finalizing a transaction for Starz, like the sale of a significant stake as opposed to an unloading of the subsidiary.
In the official earnings release, CEO Jon Feltheimer called out a “significant reduction in churn” in the company’s streaming operation. Starz has boosted its output of originals, many of them now produced in-house by Lionsgate, with a goal of making the streaming service more sticky and improving the economics of the network overall.
Feltheimer said the fiscal year was “one of our best content building years as we continue to create significant long-term value.”
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