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Lionsgate Battles Icahn, Pre-releases Positive Earnings

CNBC.com

Lionsgate is doing everything it can to prevent corporate raider Carl Icahn from taking over the company.

This morning the studio pre-released preliminary full year results nearly five weeks ahead of schedule -- results that could influence shareholders considering Icahn's takeover plan.

The studio now projects adjusted EBITDA of more than $115 million for the fiscal year ending March 31.

This more than 50 percent higher than the guidance of $75 million the company projected back on February tenth. The company attributes stronger-than expected performance to growth of video-on-demand, stronger than expected DVD sales and a "strong product pipeline." Bottom line -- Lionsgate is showing its shareholders that management is doing a good job and it's on track.

The timing is key — Carl Icahn is pushing his hostile takeover of the company for $7 a share. This pre-release gives investors positive news in enough time for them to consider it when they vote on Icahn's plan. Just yesterday Lionsgate delayed that vote, which was scheduled for May 4, to May 12. Yesterday the company also appealed a Canadian stock market regulator's ban on the so-called "poison pill" defense it planned to use to block Icahn's bid.

It's using that legal action as an opportunity to delay that vote.

I spoke to Vice Chairman Michael Burns about these new numbers and what they could mean for the battle against Icahn.

Burns says he's confident that the company will be able to fend off Icahn's advances. He cited big institutional investors like Gordon Crawford, whose Capital Group Co. owns over 10 percent of the company, who support their management team.

This has been a heated battle and it's not over yet.

Icahn attacks Lionsgate for failing to generate shareholder value, citing its stock price that has hovered around $6 for nearly the past two years. To that Burns points to the fact that the stock is up from just about $1 in 2000 when he started to some $7 per share now.

Now we'll be watching to see what Icahn says next, and whether the Canadian government approves Lionsgate's use of a poison pill.

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.