It looks like Wall Street went to the movies Tuesday.
Following strong results from major film studio offerings such as "X-Men: Days of Future Past," "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" and "Godzilla," optimism about the summer box-office season appears to be increasing.
Most recently, the new "X-Men" movie from 20th Century Fox raked in an estimated $111 million over the long Memorial Day weekend, an impressive start for the seventh film in the superhero franchise.
But analysts have been wary of comparisons with last summer, which posted record sales of $4.752 billion led by the powerful draw of blockbusters, including "Iron Man 3," "Despicable Me 2" and "Fast & Furious 6."
The strength of this year's tent pole movies, plus surprise hits such as "Neighbors" and "Heaven Is For Real," have partly alleviated fears.
"Our initial concerns about summer comps have lessened," said Eric Wold, an analyst at B. Riley & Co. in a note to clients on Tuesday. "We have become increasingly optimistic on the outlook for the group given a better-than-expected start to the summer, improving 3D and IMAX demand trends and our continued thoughts around the exceptional movie slate for 2015."
Wold increased his ratings on theater chains AMC Entertainment and Cinemark Holdings to "buy," and both stocks increased in value. Shares of AMC rose 63 cents, or 2.8%, to $23.20 on Tuesday, while Cinemark increased 86 cents, or 2.8%, to $31.46 a share.
In addition, Wold increased his price targets for Carmike Cinemas, Marcus Corp., RealD and Regal Entertainment Group.
Noting the interest in the 3-D format after the success of last year's stranded-in-space thriller "Gravity," Wold said the demand for 3-D movies appears to be improving. About half of "Godzilla's" strong $93-million opening weekend came from 3-D ticket sales. Shares of RealD Inc. grew 14 cents, or 1.2%, to $11.85.
Moreover, Wold said, the sequel-packed film slate for 2015 and beyond is giving the movie industry more reason to cheer. Upcoming highlights include "Avengers: Age of Ultron," the final chapter of the "Hunger Games" series, "Mission: Impossible 5," "Fast & Furious 7" and "Jurassic World."
"Studios have set the stage for accelerating admissions and box office trends in 2015 with an impressive film lineup -- that is increasingly coming into focus for the sector," Wold wrote.
Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
1:42 p.m.: This post has been updated with closing share prices.