There's big money in spare change, and Coinstar has turned the previously underutilized "fourth wall" area between the cash registers and the door in retail stores into a potential profit center. Perhaps best-known for its coin-counting machines, Coinstar underwent a major transformation when it acquired Redbox in 2008. Since then the DVD kiosk business, which generates about 85% of its sales, has grown to eclipse Coinstar's namesake segment. Redbox operates some 38,500 DVD rental kiosks located at supermarkets, big-box retailers, drug and convenience stores, and restaurants across North America. Coinstar's 19,000 coin-counting and cashing machines span the US, Canada, Puerto Rico, Ireland, and the UK.
Coinstar has dived headlong into the DVD rental business. It has inked licensing and revenue-sharing agreements with movie producers and distributors such as Sony Pictures, Warner Bros., Lions Gate, and Universal Studios that should keep its movie kiosks humming for the next several years, at least. It also extended its reach into video game rentals in 2011 through its Redbox business, which has competitor GameFly adjusting its playbook to jockey for position.
Over the past several years, Coinstar has transitioned from a one-product company -- offering just coin-counting services -- to a business that offers a variety of products and services. The company has grown primarily through acquisitions and is said to be exploring the sale of beauty products. Still, its acquisitions have not been nearly as successful as Redbox, which now accounts for 85% of Coinstar's total revenue.
One of the company's added services allows customers to change their coins for retailer gift cards or eCertificates, or use them to donate to charity. Partners include Starbucks, Amazon.com, Apple's iTunes, the World Wildlife Fund, and the American Red Cross. Coinstar's coin-counting machines are located mainly in supermarkets, including Kroger and SUPERVALU; its DVD rental kiosks can be found at stores such as Wal-Mart (its largest client), Walgreen, and McDonald's (from which it bought Redbox).
Focusing on its top-earning divisions, the company has been exiting less profitable enterprises amid tough economic conditions worldwide. In mid-2011 Coinstar sold its money-transfer business, which served the US and Latin America, to California-based financial serves firm Sigue. The deal, valued at about $40 million, strengthens Sigue's coverage as it provides money-transfer services in more than 135 countries and allows Coinstar to concentrate on its automated retail strategy (i.e., coin counting and video rental). Indeed, Coinstar also sold off some 900 DVDXpress kiosks (400 of which were active) in 2010, as well as DVD discs that were in the kiosks, as it had deemed the business as unprofitable.
Five unaffiliated institutional investors own more than 40% of Coinstar's stock, including FMR and Guardian Life, which each hold more than 10%. – less