PALACE AMUSEMENT POSTS $49.2 million loss in second quarter

Palace Amusement registered a major loss in the second quarter as shuttered cinemas caused a nosedive in its stock price and the company’s market value.

The cinema operator posted a loss of $49.2 million against a profit $43.7 million for the similar quarter of 2019, while core sales declined by 10 per cent to $229 million and other operating income was cut in half. Another income category for ‘non-­operating’ inflows went from $46 million to zero.

The profit loss in the March third quarter wiped out all the bottom-line gains made by the company in the previous two periods. The one bright spot was that revenue over the nine months at $899 million was ahead of the 2019 period, when sales topped $774 million.

The cinema company is ­currently the single most expensive ­ordinary stock on the Jamaican Stock Exchange, a ranking it maintains despite taking a battering this month. From $2,789 on May 5, the stock traded at $1,300 on Friday, ­pushing its market value down to $1.87 billion.

The stocks that come closest in price are cross-listed MPC Clean Energy, which last traded at $151, and NCB Financial, at over $144.

Palace Amusement announced the closure of all its cinemas effective March 14 following social distancing restrictions by the Government to control the spread of COVID-19. Even before that the company was facing challenges with its newest cinema, Sunshine Palace in Portmore, St Catherine, which was not performing as expected.

May marks the start of the ­usually busy blockbuster season for the cinema company but to date, and while the Jamaican ­government has announced the reopening of the economy on June 1, there is still no word from Palace on when it intends to restart operations.

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