Imax plans to open more theaters in Brazil, India

Fri Feb 22, 2013 12:25am IST

People buy tickets at a counter in a multiplex movie theatre in Mumbai November 22, 2008. REUTERS/Arko Datta/Files

People buy tickets at a counter in a multiplex movie theatre in Mumbai November 22, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Arko Datta/Files

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REUTERS - Imax Corp IMX.TO, a maker of movie cameras and projection equipment for giant screens, plans to open 10 to 15 theaters each in Brazil and India as it seeks growth in emerging markets, its chief executive told Reuters.

Shares of Imax rose as much as 6 percent to C$27.16 -- their highest in more than a year -- on the Toronto Stock Exchange, after the company said fourth-quarter profit more than doubled.

The Canadian company, whose cameras were used to film scenes of upcoming movies "Star Trek Into Darkness" and "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire", expects much of its growth to come from Asia in coming years.

"While the majority of our growth opportunities going forward are expected to be international, we continue to further penetrate the domestic (North American) market as well," CEO Richard Gelfond said on a conference call on Thursday.

Imax also designs and manufactures theater systems and then sells or leases them under revenue-sharing arrangements. It has more than 730 theaters in 53 countries, including six currently in Brazil and three in India.

Its fourth-quarter profit soared as gross box office revenue from its digital media remastering business rose 56 percent to $152 million, and its theater network grew. Remastering adapts a movie shot for normal theaters for giant Imax screens.

Net income for the October-December period rose to $12.9 million, or 19 cents per share. On an adjusted basis, Imax earned 23 cents per share. Revenue increased 17 percent to $77.8 million.

Imax signed contracts for 38 new theaters during the quarter, up from 26 theaters a year earlier. The backlog of new theaters fell to 276 as of December 31, from 285 at the end of the third quarter.

While the backlog fell in the quarter it was still bigger than expected, Stifel Nicolaus analyst Benjamin Mogil said in a note to clients.

Gelfond said in an interview that Tom Cruise's new movie, "Oblivion", filmed using Imax's high-resolution equipment, will be released in Imax theaters a week earlier than its U.S. release in April.

(Editing by Joyjeet Das)

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