Movie theater companies own and operate cinemas and concession stands in both local and national chain models. As a component of the consumer discretionary sector, movie theaters tend to perform well when customers have disposable income and poorly when the economy is struggling or during times of market turbulence. The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated movie theaters as a group due to plummeting attendance, both due to the economic recession and because millions of consumers are choosing to shelter at home.

The biggest names in the movie theater industry include AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. (AMC) and Imax Corp. (IMAX). While there is no benchmark for publicly traded movie theater companies, the stocks we looked at have vastly underperformed the broader market as represented by the Russell 1000. The index has posted a 1-year trailing total return of 21.5% as of December 9. All figures below are as of December 10.

Here are the top 3 movie theater stocks with the best value, least sales decline, and best performance. None of the stocks in our screen had positive earnings per share (EPS) or positive 1-year trailing total returns.

Best Value Movie Theater Stocks

These are the movie theater stocks with the lowest 12-month trailing price-to-sales (P/S) ratio. For companies in early stages of development or industries suffering from major shocks, this can be substituted as a rough measure of a business's value. The price-to-sales ratio shows how much you're paying for the stock for each dollar of sales generated.

Best Value Movie Theater Stocks
  Price ($) Market Cap ($B) 12-Month Trailing P/S Ratio
AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. (AMC) 3.86 0.6 0.2
Cineworld Group PLC (CNNWF) 0.85 1.2 0.4
Cinemark Holdings Inc. (CNK) 15.15 1.8 1.3

Source: YCharts

  • AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc.: AMC Entertainment is a holding company that, through its subsidiaries, provides movie theater services including movie screening, food, online ticket booking, and similar services. The company operates theaters worldwide. On December 11, AMC announced that it had secured a commitment of $100 million in cash from Mudrick Capital Management, which specializes in distressed debt, as part of a new first lien debt financing. Per the agreement, Mudrick will also convert $100 million of pre-existing AMC debt into AMC common stock. The company said that the agreement is intended to bolster its near-term liquidity as it grapples with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Cineworld Group PLC: Cineworld Group is a U.K.-based cinema operator with locations throughout the U.K. and Ireland. The company specializes in corporate and private events using digital projection facilities to display a variety of media.
  • Cinemark Holdings Inc.: Cinemark is a holding company that, through its subsidiaries, owns and operates movie theaters. The company offers movie screening, snacks and drinks, and an online ticket purchasing system. For Q3, 2020, Cinemark posted a $147.6 million loss due to the pandemic's impact on attendance at its theaters globally. For the first nine months 2020, Cinemark suffered a $377.6 million loss.

Movie Theater Stocks With the Least Sales Decline

These are the movie theater stocks with the least year-over-year (YOY) sales decline for the most recent quarter. A business with higher sales may eventually produce more profit when it achieves, or returns to, profitability.

Movie Theater Stocks With the Least Sales Decline
  Price ($) Market Cap ($B) Revenue Growth (%)
IMAX Corp. (IMAX) 15.21 0.9 -56.9
AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. (AMC) 3.86 0.6 -90.9
National CineMedia Inc. (NCMI) 3.78 0.3 -94.6

Source: YCharts

  • IMAX Corp.: IMAX is a Canadian company providing end-to-end cinematic solutions, including proprietary software, theater architecture, and equipment. The company has four segments: Network Business, Theater Business, New Business and Other. IMAX is best known for designing and manufacturing premium theater systems and digitally re-mastering films into the IMAX format and the exhibition of those films in the IMAX theater network. For Q3 2020, the company reported plunging revenue, inflicting a net loss of $47.2 million compared to net income of $9.0 million in Q3 2019.
  • AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc.: See above for company description.
  • National CineMedia Inc.: National CineMedia is an owner and operator of movie theaters throughout the U.S. The company offers entertainment content, movie screening services, and advertising services. In December, National CineMedia announced that Steve Sapp was appointed to the newly-created role of Senior Vice President, Digital Out-of-Home Sales. Sapp will lead a new group aimed at extending movie-centric entertainment content and advertising into a variety of non-theater venues.

Movie Theater Stocks With the Best Performance

These are the movie theater stocks that had the smallest declines in total return over the past 12 months out of the companies we looked at.

Movie Theater Stocks With the Best Performance
  Price ($) Market Cap ($B) 12-Month Trailing Total Return (%)
IMAX Corp. (IMAX) 15.21 0.9 -29.7
National CineMedia Inc. (NCMI) 3.78 0.3 -39.9
AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. (AMC) 3.86 0.6 -52.8
Russell 1000 N/A N/A 21.5

Source: YCharts

  • IMAX Corp.: See above for company description.
  • National CineMedia Inc.: See above for company description.
  • AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc.: See above for company description.

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