20 July, 2007

IMAX: Can Big Screens lead to Big Dreams?

Even if you've never seen a movie in IMAX (IMAX) and I suggest you do, I'm sure you've heard of their place amongst the entertainment and movie going crowd. They are the boys that bring you the 3-storey screens and ear-drum ripping sound systems that make effects-laden movies feel like the real thing. If you want a true movie going experience forget the 50 inch HD you just bought at Best Buy and see something revolutionary in an IMAX theatre.

The company has had its stumbles of late as the stock reached a bottom of $3.30. Since then the company has gone though phases of trying to sell itself, then trying to grow itself, being delinquent in filings and back again. The company has to restate everything going back to 2002! Now that's a lot of extra work, and a mistake the company will not make again. Still with a market cap of $189Million and revenue growth reported 17% higher year-over-year in their latest report maybe the picture is becoming clearer and pardon the pun, bigger.

While some traditionalist movie-goers may find the IMAX experience over-kill, there is a growing contingent that embrace the sheer volume of picture and sound that only this kind of experience can offer. In fact major theatre operators like AMC and Regal Entertainment (RGC) are introducing more screens and plans for more screens revenue at IMAX should continue to grow. How long can these theatre chains wait before it makes sense to snap up this company.

Now, the picture is only starting to clear up, there is still plenty of work to do for the company if it wants to become profitable, it currently posted a loss of $0.12/share this quarter, however this was better than the expected loss of $0.14/share.

Continued success of big movies like Spider Man 3, 300 and the current IMAX opening record holder Harry Potter, really give a chance for the speculative investor to take a closer look at the company and gauge just what the possibilities could be. If IMAX is truly past its internal problems and looking to turn the corner towards profitability then whether it expands the screen base on their own or through a buyout revenue growth is available. Going the buyout route would ultimately yield big gains shorter term as a company would have to pay a healthy premium for this name and growth prospects. So one thing screams out about this entertainment play, there's plenty of upside for the speculator.

Disclosure: Author holds no position in IMAX

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