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Cineworld share price slips on X-rated $2.6bn loss

Cineworld share price: the Cineworld logo

It’s been a rollercoaster week for the Cineworld share price, rising initially on its announcement earlier this week that it was looking to reopen some of its US cinema real estate next month, with showings of Mortal Kombat and Godzilla vs Kong. The cinema chain also announced a deal with Warner Brothers starting in 2022 which gives the chain limited exclusivity for 45 days in the US and 31 days in the UK.

Cineworld share price slids amid reopening concerns

These gains proved to be somewhat short-lived as the Cineworld share price slid back, as concerns about delays to an economic reopening pulled down the entire sector. Despite the losses seen so far this week, the Cineworld share price still managed to hit a one-year high at the end of last week, on optimism over cinemas in the US and UK being able to open, albeit on a limited basis starting next month.

While this optimism is probably well-founded, it can’t disguise the fact that Cineworld’s finances remain perilous, and are unlikely to improve significantly even if they are allowed to reopen all of their real estate, due to capacity restrictions.

The company has bought itself some time with various plans to restructure its finances. The chain raised extra funds in November when management managed to get the extra liquidity it needed to secure a stay of execution, agreeing lending waivers until June 2022, and securing a new debt facility of $450m, which matures on 23 May 2024. This morning the company announced a new facility of a new $213m convertible bond due in 2025, with quite a hefty coupon of 7.25%.

Capacity constraints put more pressure on Cineworld

None of this changes the fact that the company is leaking cash at a rate of knots, and any reopening will be with fairly tight constraints on capacity in the short term at least, with little prospect of an easing this year.

Today’s full-year numbers were expected to show that annual revenues declined to about $1bn, and despite these low expectations they still managed to come in lower than that, declining to $852.3m. This compares with revenues of $4.37bn a year ago. The total loss after tax for the year came in at just over $2.65bn, a large part of which was driven by impairments of $1.34bn.

Even with a lifting of restrictions the outlook continues to look challenging for Cineworld, and any setbacks to the opening timetable will put even more pressure on the company’s finances. Cineworld has acknowledged that any further delays could mean the company has to go back to its lenders cap in hand for further support.

Revenues set to stay low

While this is good to know, none of this addresses the elephant in the room which is the company’s debt pile, which currently sits at an eye-watering $8bn, give or take, and where revenues for next year are still expected to be half the level they were in 2020

Expectations for 2021 revenues are in the region of $2.5bn, with a return above $4bn expected in 2022, all the while assuming no further setbacks.

Cineworld, along with its sector peer AMC Entertainment, who own the Odeon brand, are likely to find the next two years extremely challenging, at a time when streaming has taken off.

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