(Reuters) - British cinema operator Cineworld Group Plc’s (CINE.L) full-year pretax earnings more than doubled, boosted by its purchase of the theater business of Poland’s Cinema City International in 2014.
Cineworld expects 2015 to be a strong year with big releases including the Bond film “Spectre”, the fourth and final Hunger Games movie “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2” and the latest Star Wars film “Star Wars: Episode VII”, lined up.
Shares in the company, Britain's largest cinema operator, rose as much as 8 percent on Thursday on the London Stock Exchange, making it one of the top gainers on FTSE-250 Midcap Index .FTMC.
Cineworld, which plans to open 20 new cinemas this year, said box office revenue rose 43 percent in 2014.
“The UK consumer still wants to get out of the house and spend some leisure time. Cinema going remains and I think will continue to remain a real option for people who want to spend some leisure time,” Chief Financial Officer Philip Bowcock told Reuters.
Cineworld’s acquisition of Cinema City International’s movie theater business doubled the number of its cinemas to create the second largest chain in Europe.
The company’s pretax profit jumped to 67.3 million pounds for the 53-weeks ended Jan. 1 from 30.9 million pounds a year earlier. Revenue rose 52.5 percent to 619.4 million pounds ($927.12 million).
“Outlook comments are positive and suggest strong underlying momentum going into a big film year,” analysts at Investec Securities wrote in a note.
Cineworld’s retail revenue, which comes from sales of items such as popcorn and soft drinks, rose about 51 percent in 2014.
The company raised its final dividend to 9.7 pence per share from 6.4 pence a year earlier.
Cineworld shares were up 4.9 percent at 470 pence at 1000 GMT.
($1 = 0.6681 pounds)
Editing by Anupama Dwivedi