UPDATE 1-Soccer world cup makes small dent in Cineworld's box office

Thu Jul 3, 2014 5:14am EDT

(Adds details, CFO and analyst comments, share movement)

July 3 (Reuters) - Cineworld Group Plc said box-office revenue on a pro forma basis for the first half rose 1.5 percent, even as the largest British cinema operator saw lower admissions due to the soccer World Cup.

The company's box-office revenue in the UK fell 0.6 percent in the six months ended June 26, but it was significantly lower than the nearly 6 percent fall in the overall market, Chief Financial Officer Philip Bowcock told Reuters.

Total revenue rose 33.2 percent after accounting for Cineworld's acquisition of Polish chain Cinema City International in January, making it the second biggest cinema operator in Europe, behind privately held Odeon & UCI Group.

Cineworld's presence in multiple regions helped it mute the effect of the soccer World Cup to only certain countries, J.P. Morgan Cazenove analyst Alexander Mees said in a note to clients.

Bowcock said Cineworld's UK business was the worst affected by the world cup, specifically around England.

Cineworld, which operates cinemas in the UK, Ireland and eastern European countries like Hungary and Bulgaria, continued to see opportunities to grow market share and open cinemas, according to Bowcock.

The company plans to open another 64 screens across Europe and UK in the second half of the year, and was banking on a strong lineup of films slated for release, including the latest instalment of the Transformers series.

Shares in Cineworld, which owns more than 1,800 screens, were trading up nearly 1 percent at 340 pence at 0902 GMT on the London Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bangalore; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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