The editors of SeekingAlpha.com have chosen to publish a new article by Andrew Shapiro on Reading International (RDI) and designated it as an “Editor’s Pick.”  This article discusses Reading’s Q3 2011, in particular, continued growth of global cinema exhibition operating results,  progress towards monetizing some of its major real estate parcels having sizable unrealized gains, and other disclosures of note.

Andrew is PM of  Lawndale Capital Management, an investment advisor that has managed activist hedge funds focused on small- and micro-cap companies for over 18 years. His full profile and archive of articles can be found here.

 

Q3 September 2011 resultsof movie theater operator/owner and real estate developer Reading International (RDI) (RDIB) (highlighted in this Just One Stock interview and theseother Seeking Alpha articles) again showed continued growth in revenues, operating income and operating margin vs. prior year. Furthermore, Reading’s stock price trades at the biggest discount to book value/share of all three of the larger U.S. publicly-traded theater exhibitors, despite Reading’s safer balance sheet comprised of a low debt/equity ratio and substantial holdings of long-held real estate with sizable unrealized appreciation. Together, these factors make Reading a compelling risk/reward investment. Reading’s detailed 10-Q for Q3 ended September 2011 can be found here and certain salient findings of this filing are discussed below.

Industry-wide box office results for Q3 2011 grew over the prior year. As illustrated in the table below, revenue growth at movie exhibitors with international operations such as Reading and Cinemark Holdings (CNK) continued to exceed exhibitors who rely solely on the U.S. domestic market like Regal Cinemas (RGC) and Carmike Cinemas (CKEC). This quarter’s faster international growth was a function of attendance growth and increases in average ticket prices in addition to foreign currency gains that have fueled past quarters.

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Reading Int

Salient Points From Reading’s Third Quarter Results:

Reading International continued strong y/y growth in both revenues and operating income. Total quarterly revenues grew +10.1% from prior year. Revenues of Reading’s larger cinema segment, which produces the bulk of the company’s cash flows, grew by $6.6MM or 11.9% y/y, while its smaller real estate segment revenues were down only $0.5MM y/y on lower live theater performance rents vs. the prior year. Cinema segment revenue growth was primarily the result of increases in Australian average ticket price and increases in attendance in both the U.S. and Australia partially offset by a decrease in attendance in New Zealand.

Reading’s Cinema segment growth would have been even higher but for continued earthquake damage theater closures in Christchurch, New Zealand, particularly its large Palms multiplex. This multiplex recently reopened in the middle of the current Q4 on November 17, 2011. Reading has earthquake and lost profits insurance on this cinema that will cover some period of time for this cinema to ramp back toward normal business. The company is awaiting initial payment for what is a growing recovery amount and is not yet included in Reading’s financial results.

Q3’s operating income (EBIT) jumped 27.2% from prior year Q3 to $7.1MM. Q3’s operating EBITDA (operating income + dep./amort) of $11.4MM was 20.5% higher than prior year’s operating EBITDA $9.4MM. Reading’s cash flow growth came from its cinema segment, offset slightly with small declines in its real estate segment vs. the prior year. Margins jumped from the prior year, benefiting from operating leverage on fuller theaters, higher ticket prices and increased revenue mix from concessions, which carry much higher margin than admissions.

General and administrative expenses for the period include some amount of non-recurring severance and temporarily duplicated labor costs associated with Reading’s consolidation and transfer of accounting functions in the U.S. and Australia to a single owned Wellington, New Zealand, location. Despite these temporary redundancies, Reading’s Q3 operating margins increased from prior year Q3, benefiting from operating leverage on fuller theaters, higher ticket prices and increased revenue mix from concessions and advertising, which carry much higher margin than admissions.

The box office release schedule for the remainder of the year and into 2012 contains several well-known “franchise” blockbusters and a high number of 3D movies.

Reading’s book value of $5.24/share is up 15.2% from prior year,with Australian and New Zealand 9/30/11 currency exchange rates up y/y only 1.1% and 4.7%, respectively. As explained in this Just One Stock interview, Reading’s book value greatly understates the current fair market value of Reading’s Australian, New Zealand, New York and Chicago real estate, much of which has appreciated in value over more than a decade of ownership, from population growth, up-zoning, and in some instances development into rent-generating parcels. At December 31, 2010, Reading had $58.5MM and $17.5MM of Australian and New Zealand tax NOLs without any expiration date, respectively, and $26.5MM of U.S. NOLs expiring in 2025 and thereafter that will shield the unrealized gains in these properties from substantial taxation.

The table, updated below for Q3 results, illustrates that Reading’s net debt to total assets percentage is among the industry’s most conservative and much safer than Regal Cinemas’ and Carmike Cinemas’ high leverage ratios. In fact, Regal and Carmike, both, have negative book value from sizable past losses, restructurings and distributions in excess of income. However, what makes the table, below, so compelling is that Reading’s true asset and book value is likely even higher because of sizable unrealized appreciation on the company’s real estate.

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Reading Int

 

Investment Conference and 10-Q Disclosures Highlight Reading’s Real Estate

 

On November 12, 2011, at a small investment conference in San Diego, Reading’s CFO, Andrzej Matyczynski, made what was the company’s first-ever outside investor presentation. A November 17, 2011, 8-K filing by Reading provided, as exhibits, the investor information handout and slide presentation made at this conference. In his 20-minute presentation, Mr. Matyczynski summarized Reading’s business model and sizable portfolio of cinema and real estate assets. (See the March 2011 Seeking Alpha article, entitled “Reading International: There’s More Popping Than Just Corn” for further discussion on some of these assets.) In addition to this summary, Mr. Matyczynski also disclosed that the company was close to finalizing the sale of Reading’s valuable Cinema 123 theater and land on 3rd Avenue in New York City and also reiterated the appraised valuations Reading had obtained by CBRE on portions of Reading’s large 51-acre Burwood Square development parcel (PDF) in Melbourne Australia, discussed below.

Incremental footnote language appeared in Reading’s Q3 10-Q with respect to Burwood Square as follows: “Discussions with qualified buyers continue, and it remains our plan to monetize at least the residential portions of this property,” and “we continue to consider various methods to monetize all or at least the residential portion of our Burwood development site even though it cannot be classified as a property held for sale pursuant to ASC 360-10-45.”

Reading’s updated plans and methods to monetize the Burwood development were more clearly spelled out in this Seeking Alpha article reporting on Reading’s 2011 annual meeting. The company decided this year that separately monetizing the parcel’s three zoned segments, in a staged manner, rather than all at once, more likely maximizes the parcel’s value (see this Burwood Square