IMAX Gets Its Mojo Back

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The previews are over, popcorn has been purchased, and it's finally time to start the main event at IMAX (NYS: IMAX) . The company that has built its brand on a premium theater experience is finally beginning to answer demand for its theaters around the world. And that means employees are working overtime to get them up and running.

When IMAX reported earnings yesterday, the market basically overlooked the fact that the company missed expectations on both the top and bottom line. What had everyone cheering is the rate at which IMAX screens are being put up. Fourth-quarter installation guidance was bumped from just 34 to 36 new IMAX screens to 49 to 59. At that pace, IMAX could double its 441-theater network every year.

Other than the increased installation guidance, the results were pretty pedestrian. Revenue was $67.5 million and adjusted earnings per share reached $0.16 on the back of Transformers and Harry Potter. The slate for the rest of 2011 isn't going to knock anyone's socks off unless Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol is even bigger than expected. An exclusive week run at IMAX theaters will show just how much draw Tom Cruise still has.

A summer to forget
The summer movie season, which is usually filled with blockbusters, has left both IMAX and 3-D theater company RealD's (NYS: RLD) stocks reeling. But there may be reason to get excited for 2012. Not only are both companies expanding their networks rapidly, studios should start pitching in by releasing some blockbuster movies.

Sony (NYS: SNE) will release Men in Black III in May and The Amazing Spider-Man in July. Warner Brothers, a division of Time Warner (NYS: TWX) , has The Dark Knight Rises and The Hobbit coming out in July and December, respectively, among other highly anticipated films.

Foolish bottom line
I was surprised to see IMAX jump 12% in trading yesterday on results that didn't even meet expectations. Yes, the expanding theater network is a big plus and will be leveraged when blockbuster action films are released, but the backlog is well-detailed and management has been speeding up installations all year.

If IMAX can begin turning its growing theater network into more significant profits during next year's movie season, the stock could regain its mojo again. My popcorn is ready in anticipation.

Interested in reading more about IMAX? Click here to add it to My Watchlist, and My Watchlist 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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