Judging by the headlines, RealD Inc.’s days as a hot new stock are numbered. Analysts and investors, however, declared otherwise last week.
Since going public in July, the leading supplier of 3-D theater projection technology has been hurt by a spate of speculative reports claiming that the public’s appetite for the 3-D format is waning, given several box office flops.
The parade of headlines had taken its toll on the Beverly Hills company, sending shares down to $15.63 just over a week ago, the lowest point since its initial public offering. But shares jumped nearly 20 percent last week after a pair of analysts came out in support of RealD’s growth prospects and directly challenged the critics.
“I don’t see any quantifiable data that there is any backlash,” said James Marsh, an analyst with Minneapolis-based Piper Jaffray & Co. “It’s a technology that’s here to stay. Studios like it, directors like it and consumers like it.”
The numbers back that up: Eleven percent of U.S. box office sales last year came from 3-D films, up from just 2 percent the previous year. Some analysts predict that 3-D movies could account for as much as 25 percent of the total box office this year thanks to blockbusters such as “Toy Story 3.”
That’s good news for RealD, the dominant company in its field. According to Marsh, the company has 85 percent of the market share of U.S. 3-D box office revenue. What’s more, the agreements signed between RealD and theater owners will likely prevent any of its competitors – including IMAX Corp. and Dolby Laboratories Inc. – from catching up soon.
“RealD is extremely well positioned in the 3-D space,” he said. “They have long-term agreements; they have exclusivity by multiplexes. It’s going to be extremely difficult for competitors to gain any meaningful share over the next five years.”
However, flops like “Piranha 3-D,” “The Clash of the Titans” and “The Last Airbender” started speculation about whether moviegoers will continue to shell out $3 to $5 more to see a 3-D movie. A number of articles have noted that the novelty of the technology is wearing off, including an Aug. 2 story in the New York Times article headlined “Resistance Forms Against Hollywood’s 3-D Push.”
Making matters worse, competitors such as Eastman Kodak Co. are developing projection technologies that some think could make RealD’s circular polarization projection system obsolete.
However, Marsh got support in his positive view of RealD from William Blair & Co. analyst Ralph Schackart, who issued a research note saying investors should “aggressively” buy RealD shares.
“Overall, we believe business momentum remains strong, contrary to recent negative headlines,” the note said.
Shares closed at $18.49 on Sept. 30, up 18 percent from a week earlier.
For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.
Stories You May Also Be Interested In
- 3-D Projections
- Exhibition Firm Keeps 3-D Focus
- Maker of 3-D Cinema Tech Turns Its Focus Overseas
- Investors See Dimmer Prospects for 3-D Business
- Superhero Summer Punches Up 3-D Firm’s Stock
- 3-D Technology Company To Fill More Seats in China
- 3-D Technology Company Loses Box-Office Focus
- 3-D Company Jumping Out