Cineworld shares could return to March low of 19p, says IG analyst

Shares in the world’s second largest cinema chain look likely to return to March lows, according to analysts at IG, with movie theatres’ profits under threat after new AMC-Universal deal overhauls traditional business model.

Shares in Cineworld look likely to return to March lows after AMC Entertainment and Universal Pictures sign deal that reduces films run times in theatres – overhauling an old business model that could hurt cinemas earnings.

The deal essentially shortens the exclusivity of all films produced by Universal Pictures and Focus Features from 75 days in theatres to just 17days, after which the studio is allowed to screen its titles across premium on demand (PVOD) platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and Hulu.

This new arrangement means that film fans will only have to wait a two and half weeks rather than months to watch their favourite movies from the comfort of their home, which could see the popularity of cinemas wane.

‘The theatrical experience continues to be the cornerstone of our business,’ Universal Pictures chair Donna Langley said in a statement.

‘The partnership we’ve forged with AMC is driven by our collective desire to ensure a thriving future for the film distribution ecosystem and to meet consumer demand with flexibility and optionality,’ she added.

Cineworld is trading at 38p per share at the time of publication, with the stock down 82% year-to-date.

Cineworld: technical analysis

The price has resumed its march lower, and has seen little in the way of sustained upside since early June, according to Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG.

‘Lower highs and trendline resistance from the June peak continue to dominate the outlook, he added. ‘Below 34.6p the price will be left with the March low of 19.2p as a downside target.

AMC-Universal deal represents ‘paradigm shift’, says Morgan Stanley

The new deal between AMC Entertainment and Universal Pictures is the ‘crystallisation’ of the worst case scenario for Cineworld, according to a recent note from analysts at Morgan Stanley.

The US-based investment bank had previously calculated that the rise in PVOD platforms represents a potential 10% to 30% threat to EBITDA for Cineworld, with earnings likely to be hit even harder this year due to lower-than-expected revenue and profits for cinemas as a result of Covid-19.

Morgan Stanley admitted that other studios and movie theatres were likely to replicate deals similar to AMC Entertainment and Universal Pictures, ‘ending a decades old theatrical model’.

‘AMC is the largest US exhibitor, and it is hard to see this paradigm shift not being replicated by other studios and exhibitors such as Cineworld,’ Morgan Stanley added.

However, AMC Entertainment believes that its deal with Universal Pictures is a win-win situation that will help improve the profitability of both theatres and film studios.

‘We are participating in the entirety of the economics of the new structure, and because premium video on demand creates the added potential for increased movie studio profitability, which should in turn lead to the green-lighting of more theatrical movies,’ AMC Theatres CEO Adam Aron said.

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