Helios and Matheson Analytics Inc. (NASDAQ: HMNY) announced on Wednesday that the company’s majority-owned MoviePass subsidiary had signed up more than 3 million subscribers. By the end of this year, the company expects to have 5 million.
Last August, MoviePass had just 20,000 subscribers, each paying $50 a month for the privilege of going to as many theatrical movies as they wanted. Then the company dropped its price to $9.95 a month and by December MoviePass had 1 million subscribers.
Another 2 million subscribers in less than six months would seem to put the company on track for a stock price boost. Yet shares have dropped from a 52-week high near $39 in October to Thursday’s closing price of $0.35. That’s not a typo.
Will running up the subscriber number to 5 million lift the share price and save MoviePass and its parent? A path to profitability is pretty well-disguised. MoviePass pays theater operators the full ticket price every time a subscriber goes to a movie. With an average ticket price of around $9, the company loses money if a subscriber goes to two movies a month.
The business model appears to be sell as many subscriptions as possible and hope people don’t use them. According to data from Statista, 54% of Americans prefer to watch movies at home while only 13% prefer to watch movies in a theater. Only 3% of Americans visit a movie theater at least once a week compared with 22% who say they never go to a theater.
If MoviePass can just convince that 22% to pay $10 a month for something they don’t use, the company could make money.
Helios has acquired an advertising service and created a subsidiary called MoviePass Ventures to buy an interest in film production. The company says it uses its advertising service to “drive box office” for the films it invests in. Helios CEO Ted Farnsworth said:
With MoviePass Films and MoviePass Ventures under the Helios umbrella, we are continuously adding more perks and services for our MoviePass subscribers. Consistent growth in MoviePass subscribers means we can utilize our media companies in ways no one has seen before. With its considerable market share of moviegoers, MoviePass expects to influence its subscribers to engage with our other revenue channels throughout the entire film industry ecosystem.
If no one has ever seen it, it could be because it doesn’t exist. As unlikely as it seems, it is also possible that MoviePass does have the key to unlocking the theatrical movie business. Investors apparently don’t want to take the chance.
Helios and Matheson shares traded up about 1.5% in Friday’s premarket at just over $0.35 after closing at just under $0.35 on Thursday. The 52-week range on the stock is $0.33 to $38.86 and 2 analysts have put a 12-month concensus price target on the stock of $9.67 a share.