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Cinemark ‘confident’ in box office rebound despite Q4 loss

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Cinemark 'confident' in box office rebound despite Q4 loss

Cinema giant Cinemark said Friday it sees the light at the end of the tunnel even as it swung to a quarterly loss as the coronavirus pandemic crushed movie attendance.

In the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, Cinemark posted a loss of $239 million, or $2.03 a diluted share compared with a year-ago profit of $23 million, or 22 cents a share. Revenue fell to $98 million from $789 million a year ago. Wall Street expected a loss of $1.46 a share on revenue of $80 million.

Chief executive Mark Zorandi noted that the results were severely hampered by the pandemic, which shuttered its theaters or reduced its seating capacity since the last year.

“It is almost unfathomable that one year ago, we were reporting Cinemark’s fifth consecutive year of record results with the North American industry touting the second-highest-grossing box office of all-time,” he said.

As of the fourth quarter, the Plano, Texas-based company had 217 domestic and 129 international movie theaters open, all operating at limited hours and capacity, and showing mostly older movies.

Still, the nation’s third-largest movie theater chain with 533 theaters — 331 of which are in the US —said it sees hope on the horizon as moviegoing rises in regions where the virus has been contained.

“We remain highly confident in the rebound of our industry once the virus is more contained, as evidenced by recent box office results in China, Japan and Australia,” the CEO said. “Cinemark was well-positioned heading into the crisis, and we have adapted and evolved the way we operate to navigate the current environment, and to ensure we remain successful and further solidify our leadership position as theatrical moviegoing resurges.”

In the US, the early success of the vaccine, which has lowered COVID cases, has also been a cause for celebration among movie theater owners. New York City, one of the most lucrative box office markets, will reopen movie theaters at limited capacity in March, after a yearlong hiatus.

Zorandi said his company is well-positioned to weather the storm with $655 million in cash.

“While COVID-19 has caused significant distress to our industry and our company, Cinemark has maintained discipline and consistency, while demonstrating relentless perseverance and agility,” he added.

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Domino’s to start robot pizza deliveries in Houston this week

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Domino's to start robot pizza deliveries in Houston this week

Domino’s Pizza will be delivering pies with the help of driverless robot cars as part of a pilot in Houston beginning this week.

The largest pizza chain in the US is partnering with Nuro, a self-driving delivery company that has raised more than $1 billion from investors including Softbank, and which received regulatory approval last year to begin unmanned deliveries.

The companies announced their partnership in 2019, but the pilot for the service launches this week, the companies said on Monday.

Nuro also launched a pilot in Houston with CVS last year to deliver prescriptions to consumers and it has been working with Walmart and Kroger as well.

The collaboration with Domino’s comes amid a severe shortage of drivers available for food delivery, Nuro told Reuters in a statement.

Consumers who are part of the pilot — which is being run out of the Woodland Heights Domino’s — can track the vans’ route via text alerts. They pre-pay for their delivery online and once the vans arrive they use a PIN code to retrieve their order from the vans, which are smaller than a regular vehicle. The ceiling doors open upwards and the pie is presented to the customer.

“There is still so much for our brand to learn about the autonomous delivery space,” Domino’s chief innovation officer, Dennis Maloney said in a statement. “This program will allow us to better understand how customers respond to the deliveries, how they interact with the robot and how it affects store operations.”

Houston, the fourth-largest US city, has one of the country’s highest road fatality rates. “Houston’s roadways create challenging scenarios for our technology to work with,” said Cosimo Leipold, Nuro’s head of partner relations.

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Microsoft in talks to buy Nuance Communications: report

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Microsoft in talks to buy Nuance Communications: report

Microsoft is in advanced talks to buy artificial intelligence and speech technology company Nuance Communications for about $16 billion, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The price being discussed could value Nuance at about $56 a share, the source said, adding that an agreement could be announced as soon as Monday. Nuance shares closed Friday at $45.58.

Bloomberg News, which first reported the deal (paywall) between Nuance and Microsoft, said talks are ongoing and the discussions could still fall apart.

Burlington, Mass.-based Nuance whose voice recognition technology helped launch Apple’s assistant Siri, makes software for sectors ranging from healthcare to the automotive industries.

The deal with Nuance would be Microsoft’s second-biggest deal, after its $26.2 billion acquisition of LinkedIn in 2016.

Microsoft and Nuance did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

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Soho House club chain reportedly files for New York IPO

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Soho House club chain reportedly files for New York IPO

Soho House — the London-based group of posh private clubs — is planning to go public across the pond, a new report says.

The British company filed confidential paperwork with the US Securities and Exchange Commission this week to list itself on the New York Stock Exchange at a valuation of more than $3 billion, the UK’s Sky News reported Thursday.

The filing comes about three years after the iconic chain last mulled plans for an IPO in 2018, according to reports from the time.

The latest bid has been in the works since at least February, when The Times of London reported that Soho House had hired Wall Street stalwarts JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley as it looked to take advantage of the frothy US stock market.

The company raised a batch of private funding last summer but decided to pursue more capital through the public market as it expands, according to Sky News.

Soho House declined to comment Thursday.

Soho House runs 27 clubs in 10 countries, including three in New York City, along with event venues and a group of co-working spaces dubbed “Soho Works.

The chain’s business has reportedly held up through the coronavirus crisis. Just about 10,000 of its 110,000 members — whose ranks include Prince Harry and supermodel Kate Moss — canceled their memberships even as the pandemic shuttered its venues, the Financial Times reported last year.

While Soho House shares its name with the London neighborhood where its first club opened in 1995, the company is mostly owned by billionaire American investor Ron Burkle.

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