Lights Go Dark at IMAX

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Cowboys, aliens, Lord Voldemort, and the Decepticons all had it out for IMAX (NYS: IMAX) this week. The premium movie theater company has fallen 32% this week, and it plummeted again yesterday after the company released earnings.

If you read the headlines or watch the stock, you might think that IMAX is going out of style. Earnings per share were a paltry $0.03, and even after adjusting for stock options, the company's $0.07 per share in earnings fell short of Wall Street's $0.20-per-share expectation.

What were we expecting?
I've been shocked by this reaction, because I can barely recall an IMAX-type movie that came out during the second quarter. Fast Five was probably the best film in the second quarter, but other than that, there were a lot of disappointing films. In fact, the entire year was pretty disappointing at the box office, until Transformers and Harry Potter hit the screen.

So while financial results weren't great, IMAX did report a profit, despite a pretty weak quarter for films.

What really matters
Two things should drive IMAX shares: blockbuster films and theater signings. On those two fronts, IMAX appears to be performing relatively well. In IMAX tickets alone, Transformers: Dark of the Moon raked in $23.1 million globally in an extended opening weekend. Time Warner's (NYS: TWX) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 took in $23.2 million in IMAX theaters on its way to crushing a number of box-office records. Those films have driven $88 million in IMAX box office in the first three and a half weeks of July, versus $98 million in the entire second quarter of 2010.

Theater signings and installations are also strong for IMAX. In the first half of 2011, IMAX signed 153 theater deals and installed 84. Again management increased full-year installation outlook to 120 to 130 theaters, up by five from last quarter.

Premium is still in style
If you think 3-D or a premium theater experience is going out of style, you've given up on the movie business too early. AMC signed up for another 1,000 new RealD (NYS: RLD) screens earlier this week, and IMAX is building screens as fast as it can. The problem this year has been that the films studios released weren't the blockbusters IMAX was looking for. That has changed in July, and third-quarter results should reflect IMAX's value more positively.

For now, I think the market is giving us a great buying opportunity.

Interested in reading more about IMAX? Click here to add it to My Watchlist, which will find all of our Foolish analysis on this stock.

At the time this article was published Fool contributor Travis Hoium owns shares of IMAX. You can follow Travis on Twitter at @FlushDrawFool, check out his personal stock holdings or follow his CAPS picks at TMFFlushDraw.Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of IMAX. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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