February 23, 2012 / 1:57 PM / 6 years ago

Imax profit meets view; looks to India, South America

(Reuters) - Imax Corp IMX.TO reported a quarterly profit in line with analysts’ expectations, as solid box-office receipts led by the latest Mission: Impossible title offset a fall in systems revenue because of fewer new theatre installations and digital upgrades.

The Tom Cruise spy film Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol had brought in more than $53 million in Imax ticket sales by early January.

“In 2012, we are increasingly focused on igniting our growth in underpenetrated markets like South America, Western Europe and India,” Chief Executive Richard Gelfond said.

The Canadian company has been slower to target India, home to the world’s most avid moviegoers, but last month signed a deal to build four more theaters there that would focus on digitally-enhanced Bollywood movies.

However, the company’s rapid move into other Asian growth markets continued in the quarter, as it signed deals in December to open 7 more theaters in China and two in Indonesia.

Western film companies are flocking to China to ink deals that will hopefully bear fruit as the country’s middle class swells and their demand for more sophisticated entertainment options increase.

Imax’s push into China was helped after Beijing on Friday agreed to allow in more Hollywood movies, particularly in premium formats such as Imax or 3D.

It also reworked a South American deal the company expects will speed its growth in that region, particularly in Brazil and Argentina.

For the fourth quarter, net income for the Mississauga, Ontario-based company was $6.3 million, or 9 cents a share, down from $54.2 million, or 80 cents a share, a year ago.

On an adjusted basis, it earned 14 cents a share, in line with analysts’ average expectation.

Revenue fell 4 percent to $66.7 million, but beat analysts’ average expectation of $63.4 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Imax has 583 theaters worldwide operating in 48 countries.

Imax installed 57 theater systems in the quarter. It expects to install 95 to 100 new theater systems in 2012, of which about 13 to 17 new theatres are likely to be installed in the first quarter.

Shares of the company closed at C$23.98 on Wednesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Reporting by Alastair Sharp and Bhaswati Mukhopadhyay in Bangalore; Editing by Viraj Nair, Sriraj Kalluvila

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