Shares of National CineMedia (NASDAQ: NCMI) rose 29% in September 2017, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. You could say that the cinematic advertising specialist's jump had the It factor.
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National CineMedia entered September on a low note, as shares had lost 22% of their value in August. The summer was brutal to the movie industry in general, and the prospects for an upturn in silver-screen ad spending seemed slim. The tables turned in a hurry when Time Warner debuted its version of Stephen King's horror classic It to positive reviews and record-breaking audiences. Many stocks with Hollywood connections surged on the news, but none jumped as high as National CineMedia.
It reminded movie audiences that some films deserve the big-screen treatment, and investors were quick to catch on. There are many potential hits on the upcoming film schedule, many in exactly the visually rich style that seems to succeed at attracting foot traffic to movie theaters. If nothing else, Star Wars: The Last Jedi should give National CineMedia a solid platform for ad sales this holiday season.
But it may take more than a couple of blockbusters to get National CineMedia back on its feet. Even after September's strong bounce, the stock is still trading 52% lower year to date, amid plunging top-line revenues and paper-thin earnings. It would not surprise me if the company were to slash its overly generous dividend policy in the near future, bringing the dividend yield down from today's unrealistic 12.6%. This stock has become something closer to a lottery ticket than a solid investment.
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