So, I’m not surprised to see that the price has fallen even further since then, from 28p on 6 May down to around the 20p mark today.
I find it remarkable that just five years ago its share price was near 700p.
Bearish sentiment weighing on the price
The market sentiment is so bad regarding Cineworld’s prospects that its price-to-earnings (P/E) valuation is negative. For the latest 12 months, the P/E ratio for Cineworld is -0.5 times. This suggests that the company earns more per share than the market is willing to pay right now. I think that’s quite an indictment, and the share price is bearing the brunt.
I’m bearish on the shares too, for two reasons, the first of which is fundamental. The main challenge to Cineworld’s future growth prospects is its current and sizeable credit obligations. The lion’s share of its limited resources is being used to pay down debt, kicking any capital expenditure plans into the long grass. Interest rates in the UK and US are only going to increase from here. This will add to the group’s cost of capital, compounding an already insurmountable debt pile.
The second reason is structural. Smartphones, DIY digital technology, and social media mean ‘Hollywood’ isn’t quite as dreamy, or distant, as it once was. And streaming giants have provided us with alternatives to going to the cinema.
Both of these developments will continue to weigh on the share price of Cineworld over the long term.
Reasons for optimism
I previously said that it would take a very patient investor to buy Cineworld shares, despite the falling share price. And I still believe that.
However, there are some reasons to be positive. Just recently the shares rose as Tom Cruise’s rebooted Top Gun smashed blockbuster opening weekend records. It made the film the highest-opening non-superhero movie released since the start of the pandemic. Maybe cinema might not be dead after all?
In addition, the company has been reopening cinemas across the country and said it continues to see “a recovery across our business,” according to the latest annual report.
Meanwhile, the average price target from analysts covering the Cineworld stock is 40p by the end of 2022. This would be quite a lift from the current price.
Why I’m still avoiding the shares
The next time I discuss the Cineworld share price, it may have dipped further. But it still won’t be an opportunity for me to buy. Despite its recovering revenue, the business is heavily leveraged, and this will eat into investor returns over the long run.
For the shares to become attractive to me, its debt burden will need to be reduced significantly. To be frank, the only way I see Cineworld stock becoming attractive, is if it goes into single-digit penny stock territory. Until then, I’ll continue to avoid it.