February 28, 2018 / 7:43 AM / 3 months ago

Belgium's Kinepolis profit grows as cinema empire expands

BRUSSELS, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Belgian cinema group Kinepolis Group NV, reported a 10 percent increase in profit in 2017 as visitors were drawn to its newly opened movie theatres and it sold more snacks and premium tickets, such as for fancier seats.

The company, which expanded into North America last year, said on Wednesday its core profit (EBITDA) rose 10.3 percent to 104.3 million euros ($127.6 million), broadly in line with the average expectation of 105.7 million euros, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Kinepolis said it had welcomed 6.2 percent more visitors to its cinemas last year, boosted by complexes that opened in 2016 and its acquisition in December of Canada’s second-largest movie theatre chain Landmark with 44 cinemas, its first non-European market.

Kinepolis described the quality of movies in 2017 as “highly variable”.

“Exceptionally strong months alternated with weak periods,” Kinepolis said in a statement.

The stand-out was the latest Star Wars movie “The Last Jedi” at the end of the year.

The company gave no financial outlook for 2018, but listed a number of current and likely future movie hits, including “Black Panther” and “Incredibles 2”.

Kinepolis’ net financial debt rose 32.1 percent to 224.3 million euros in debt due to the company’s expansion, but chief executive Eddy Duquenne described the debt level as low. ($1 = 0.8172 euros) (Reporting by Samantha Koester; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)

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