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National CineMedia Stock Zooms After Big-Screen Ad Firm Reports Signs Of Post-Bankruptcy Progress

National CineMedia, which exited Chapter 11 bankruptcy last summer, drew cheers from investors Monday after an encouraging fourth-quarter earnings report.

Shares in the company shot up 17% in after-market trading on the quarterly numbers, which featured a small but notable uptick in national advertising during the quarter. The dual strikes of 2023 have hampered exhibition earnings of late, and those challenges plus the bankruptcy process left an imprint on the financials.

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Total revenue in the quarter ended December 28 slipped a fraction to $90.9 million, compared with $91.7 million in the year-earlier period. National ad revenue inched up 2% to $71.9 million, with utilization gains of 14.1% offsetting a 6% drop in attendance. Across the media business, companies reported gloomy results from advertising in the quarter, putting NCMI in a small cohort of those in the black.

Operating income in the quarter dropped to $21.3 million from $28.1 million in the year-ago quarter, but exceeded internal forecasts. On a diluted basis, earnings per share fell to 24 cents from 60 cents in the 2022 period.

“We are very encouraged by our strong fourth quarter performance, which led to a 43% increase in active national advertisers and record revenue per attendee,” CEO Tom Lesinski said in the company’s earnings release. “What remains clear is that the biggest brands continue to turn to NCM as a trusted and effective way to reach the millions of young, diverse moviegoers.”

National CineMedia is sticking with Noovie, the brand for its pre-show block introduced in 2017. In an annual report of its 2023 performance filed with the SEC along with the quarterly financials, NCM said as of year-end Noovie accounted for 65% of its total ad network. The Noovie mix includes a “platinum” ad that is shown in between trailers just prior to the feature presentation, the filing noted.

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