Top Movie Theater Stocks for Q3 2021

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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 chose to shelter at home. However, recent box-office receipts indicate that the industry is beginning to recover.

The biggest names in the movie theater industry include AMC Entertainment Holdings, Inc. (AMC) and IMAX Corporation. (IMAX). Though there is no benchmark for publicly traded movie theater companies, a helpful benchmark is the Russell 1000, which has provided 1-year trailing total returns of 35.7% as of June 9. All figures below are also as of June 9, 2021.

Here are the top three movie theater stocks with the best value, least sales decline, and most momentum. None of the stocks in our screen had positive earnings per share (EPS).

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 P/S 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
Imax Corp. (IMAX) 23.23 1.4 9.7
Cinemark Holdings, Inc. ( CNK) 23.21 2.8 10.6
National CineMedia Inc. ( NCMI) 5.10 0.4 12.8

Source: YCharts

  • IMAX Corp.: IMAX is a bit different than the other stocks on our list because the Canadian company makes equipment in addition to operating movie theaters. It provides 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. In May, IMAX reported that it achieved the biggest domestic opening weekend since 2019 by bringing in $5.3 million for “A Quiet Place Part II.” In the same month, the company reported an opening of $14 million for “F9” across 800 IMAX screens in China, the Middle East, Russia, and South Korea.
  • Cinemark Holdings, Inc.: Cinemark is a holding company that, through its subsidiaries, owns and operates movie theaters. In June, the company will expand its gaming offerings by providing new in-theater gaming and online esports offerings in partnership with esports company Mission Control.
  • 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. On June 10, National CineMedia announced that president Cliff Marks will retire as of July 1, 2021. Marks will continue to work with the company on major new initiatives, corporate development, and various partnerships through a multi-year agreement with his new strategic media and marketing company, CMarksCo LLC.

These are the movie theater stocks with the highest year-over-year (YOY) sales growth or lowest sales decline for the most recent quarter. A company’s ability to maintain sales in a difficult business environment can be a sign of good management and/or a strong business model.

Movie Theater Stocks With the Least Sales Decline
  Price ($) Market Cap ($B) Revenue Growth (%)
IMAX Corp. (IMAX) 23.23 1.4 11.0
Cinemark Holdings, Inc. (CNK) 23.21 2.8 -79.0
AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. (AMC) 49.34 24.8 -84.3

Source: YCharts

  • IMAX Corp.: See above for company description.
  • Cinemark Holdings, Inc.: See above for company description.
  • AMC Entertainment Holdings, Inc.: AMC Entertainment is a holding company that, through its subsidiaries, provides movie theater services including movie screenings, food, online ticket booking, and other similar services. The company operates theaters worldwide. AMC has become a subject of interest on the popular trader platform WallStreetBets in recent months. This popularity and the development of AMC as a “meme stock” has pushed the company’s share price up immensely. Retail investors hold the vast majority of the company’s shares.

These are the movie theater stocks that had the highest total return over the past 12 months.

Movie Theater Stocks With the Most Momentum
  Price ($) Market Cap ($B) 12-Month Trailing Total Return (%)
AMC Entertainment Holdings, Inc. (AMC) 49.34 24.8 723.7
IMAX Corp. (IMAX) 23.23 1.4 66.5
National CineMedia Inc. (NCMI) 5.10 0.4 55.5
Russell 1000 N/A N/A 35.7

Source: YCharts

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

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Source: Investopedia