After being shut for six to seven straight quarters, India's largest multiplex operator on Friday reported a narrowing of its consolidated loss after tax of Rs 10.2 crore for the third quarter ended December 2021 due to the easing of COVID-19 related restrictions.
In the same period last year, the company had reported a consolidated loss after tax of Rs 49.21 crore, the company said in a regulatory filing.
"It was a great quarter for us. We finally got to open cinemas and have at least a few months of operations. Going forward, there will be a bit of a challenge. In the first wave, we were shut for almost eight months and in the second wave for four months. This time we're not shut except for two states, Delhi and Haryana, and we expect them to reopen in a couple of weeks given that cases have gone down in both these markets," Nitin Sood, CFO, PVR told Business Today.
He added that January and February will be tough months as new content releases have stopped. "But we'll bounce back fairly quickly. Some of the regional markets continue to be open and films will start releasing from March beginning in other markets," he said.
For the quarter ended December 31, 2021, the company's consolidated revenue stood at Rs 709.7 crore as compared to Rs 320.1 crore for the corresponding quarter last year.
The company said the quarter gone by has been the best one for the company since March 2020 when the business was adversely impacted on account of the pandemic.
"Our December numbers were almost close to pre-pandemic despite partial recovery. March could be a better month than December given the pipeline of big films that we have from now on. It will take one full quarter to normalise footfalls. Effectively, in Q1 of next year is when we footfalls to be closer to pre-pandemic levels," Sood said.
He added that since the pricing tends to be higher for big films, the momentum is likely to continue since there are new releases coming up.
"Full recovery of admission may take 3-4 months but revenue and profitability recovery will happen much faster," he said. New releases like Jersey, RRR, Prithviraj, etc. are expected to help PVR clock a faster recovery.
"PVR has reported a strong quarter with beat on revenue which has largely come due to compelling growth in metrics like average ticket price and spend per head, which may not be sustainable as we approach normalcy; we believe large budget films and Hollywood content generally tend to report higher growth in these operating metrics," Karan Taurani, Senior Vice President-Research Analyst, Elara Capital said.
He said that its footfalls remain down to 44% vs pre-pandemic levels for the quarter despite multiple big-budget releases and "ad revenue will be the last one to recover in line with our expectation (declined 67% vs pre-pandemic levels)."
"We continue to believe that recovery path will be much faster for cinemas in the third wave as cinemas were not shut down in any major states except Delhi; expect Box Office to start seeing signs of strong recovery post second week of March'22, as a big slate of content pipeline remains available for theatrical release," he added.
PVR managed to launch 18 new screens during the year. This includes four screens in Narsipatnam, Andhra Pradesh, seven screens in Jio World Drive (including one drive-in theatre), Mumbai, four Director's Cut screens in Ambience Mall, Gurgaon and three screens in Jamnagar, Gujarat.
"We have a massive pipeline of screens scheduled to open and ready for handover. We should go back to what we were doing pre-pandemic which was 80-100 screens but we'll get a better sense once we have 1 or 2 months of full operations," Sood said.
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