Lions Gate Entertainment Corp (LGF.A) Q4 2021 Earnings Call Transcript

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Lions Gate Entertainment Corp (NYSE: LGF.A)
Q4 2021 Earnings Call
May 27, 2021, 5:00 p.m. ET


  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:


Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. And welcome to the Lions Gate Fourth Quarter 2021 and Year End Earnings Call. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, today’s conference is being recorded.

I would now like to turn the conference over to your host, EVP, Head of Investor Relations, Mr. Nilay Shah. Please go ahead, sir.

Nilay ShahExecutive Vice President and Head of Investor Relations

Good afternoon. Thank you for joining us for the Lions Gate fiscal ’21 fourth quarter conference call. We’ll begin with opening remarks from our CEO, Jon Feltheimer; followed by remarks from our CFO, Jimmy Barge. After their remarks, we’ll open the call for questions. Also joining us on the call today are Vice Chairman, Michael Burns; COO, Brian Goldsmith; Chairman of the TV Group, Kevin Beggs; and Chairman of the Motion Picture Group, Joe Drake. And from STARZ, we have President and CEO, Jeff Hirsch; CFO, Scott Macdonald; President of Domestic Network, Alison Hoffman; and EVP of International, Superna Kalle.

The matters discussed on this call include forward-looking statements, including those regarding the performance of future fiscal years. Such statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties. Actual results could differ materially and adversely from those described in the forward-looking statements as a result of various factors. This includes the risk factors set forth in Lions Gate’s most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K as amended in our most recent Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q filed with the SEC. The company undertakes no obligation to publicly release the results of any revisions to these forward-looking statements that may be made to reflect any future events or circumstances.

I’ll now turn the call over to Jon.

Jon FeltheimerChief Executive Officer

Thank you, Nilay, and good afternoon, everyone. During an extraordinary year marked by a global pandemic and unprecedented industry disruption, we continue to execute on our strategy and business plan. And we’re wrapping up fiscal ’21 with our fourth strong quarter in a row. I’ll recap the highlights of the fiscal year, talk about how fiscal ’21 positions us for fiscal ’22 and close with a few of our learnings from this past year. Financially, we reported strong adjusted OIBDA and over $300 million in adjusted free cash flow in the fiscal year, allowing us to reduce our net leverage ratio by more than a full term. We also made qualitative enhancements to our capital structure by taking advantage of market conditions to refinance and extend our debt at lower rates.

We ended the fiscal year with over $500 million in available cash, an untapped $1.5 billion revolver and a healthy balance sheet. Operationally with a year of strong subscriber growth, great new television series, record library sales and a successful pivot to alternative release strategies for many of our films. Beginning with our studio businesses, our film and television production teams did an extraordinary job keeping productions running with minimal disruption. We recently had seven films, 19 scripted series and 20 unscripted shows shooting around the world at the same time, keeping STARZ programming on schedule, and responding to unprecedented demand from third-party buyers.

Nobody could have imagined that we would be operating for most of the year in a world without movie theaters. We pivoted quickly to new distribution models or films such as Run, Antebellum, Fatale and I Still Believe. By capitalizing on the optionality of our slate and our ability to future proof our model. We ended the year with a 42% increase in Motion Picture Group profitability. And the other Motion Picture business continues to evolve in ways that we’ve already seen in ways that are still emerging. We continue to believe in its vitality. We went into production on 13 films during the pandemic year as we prepare both for the continued reopening of theaters, and the exciting opportunity to deliver a robust slate to STARZ next year.

With the latest installment of our blockbuster action franchise, John Wick 4, the Hunger Games prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes adapted from Suzanne Collins runaway best-seller, the star studded Borderlands, White Bird, the follow-up to our global hit Wonder, a nostalgic reimagining of our classic intellectual property Dirty Dancing. Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret, based on Judy Blume’s iconic novel, franchise property Monopoly and Shotgun Wedding starring Jennifer Lopez. Our slate will be a compelling value proposition across every platform. As our spectrum of buyers continued to expand to include new players like Roku and IMDb, and we capitalize on an opportunity to return to the Network series business. Our Television Group is coming off one of its best years ever.

With 13 new series orders, all eight of our pilots picked up to series, and all seven of last year’s Freshman series renewed for their second season. We’ve also been busy aligning our content businesses behind the growth of STARZ and in fiscal 2021, we hit our full stride with 15 Lions Gate television series launched, preparing to launch or in production for STARZ. For 20 years, we’ve been investing billions of dollars in creating premium evergreen content. And the proof of concept is the record performance of our library. Our library revenues continue to grow year-over-year and reached an all-time high of $780 million in fiscal ’21, driven by the steady march of new SVOD, and AVOD platforms around the world with an enormous appetite for content.

And when we look at the success of our recent library packages, it’s interesting to note that instead of two or three big drivers, contributions are spread across hundreds of different profitable titles, all of them growing in value over time. Ours is a big, young and vibrant library, with over 80% of library revenue coming from titles produced since 2000, with many monetization cycles ahead. Turning to STARZ, we grew subscribers by 23% year-over-year, with 29.5 million global subscribers at year end excluding the nearly 1 million subs from Pantaya. Importantly, 16.7 million of our global subs are streaming well exceeding our fiscal yearend target of 13 million to 15 million and taking us past the digital inflection point of more over the top than linear subscribers.

Our domestic and international businesses both made significant contributions to this growth. In the United States, we reached the 10 million streaming subscriber milestone, thanks to a focused content strategy and a slate loaded with exciting new series, adult edgy premium content, whose demographic focus gives us a point of view and is making us a must have platform for certain affinity groups. Ghost and P-Valley recorded the number one and number two ranked STARZ premieres ever with Outlanders sixth season marking a multi-platform viewing series high. Hightown established itself as a critical favorite with a dedicated fan base and seduced the story of the Nxivm ‘Sex Cult was a great success in the unscripted space.

Internationally, it was a year highlighted by the 70% increase of our STARZPLAY subscriber base to 8.6 million, an expanding global distribution footprint, a successful best of global SVOD content strategy that continues to set us apart and new bundle deals driving our penetration in key territories. STARZPLAY’s combination of premium programming, speed-to-market and operational flexibility attracted more than 20 new partners in 15 countries as we have grown our footprint to a total of 58 countries within three years of our global launch. This head start allows us to continue to access best-in-class acquisitions, such as Normal People, The Great, Gangs of London and…

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