German exhibitor CinemaxX's shares plunged almost 40% to Euros4 on Thursday, in reaction to news that the company is being forced to issue a profit warning because of unexpectedly low cinema admissions over the last few months.

CinemaxX, which together with its partner Ufa operates 623 screens in 54 locations, said it would report a "two digit million mark loss" for the first six months of the current financial year (July-Dec 2000).

The company said it had "firmly assumed that the traditionally over-proportionally good cinema month of November would recompense for the drop in admissions in October". However, November ticket sales fell below even the traditionally weak month of July.

The picture was different when CinemaxX announced its nine-month results at the end of May, and reported that admissions to its cinemas had risen by 12.6% to 14.6 million, thanks to a particularly strong line-up of films in January and February.

The Hamburg-based company said it was working on appropriate measures for the short and long-term - such as the further reduction of costs - to improve its financial results. In the meantime, producer-distributor Senator Entertainment, which acquired more than 25% of CinemaxX in May, has already moved to announce an "exclusive cooperation agreement" with the company, which is expected to mean a more hands-on involvement in its operations.