Marvel (NYSE: MVL) Entertainment’s fourth-quarter earnings were buoyed by the release of Iron Man on DVD, which accounted for the lion’s share of the company’s $135 million in film revenue. Total revenues for the company, which publishes brands like Spider Man, X-Men, Thor, The Avengers and the Incredible Hulk, grew to $224.3 million in the fourth quarter from $109.3 million during the same period in 2007. EPS for Marvel was $0.80 per share versus $0.33 per share during the fourth quarter of the year earlier. The increase was mostly due to the DVD release of Iron Man in September 2008 — there were no DVD releases during the fourth quarter of 2007. Here is the unit info:
– Film revenue increased to $135 million from zero during the fourth quarter 2007, when there were no releases.
– Licensing revenue declined 27 percent, mostly due to a Spiderman 3 release in the fourth quarter 2007, but not in 2008.
– Publishing revenue grew 9 percent; the company said it continues to invest in the digital business related to its comic-book brands; it was the digital side that drove the operating losses during the quarter. In the third-quarter earnings report, the company said it expected to invest about $6 million in digital during 2009, but did not provide an update this time around.
The company’s current strategy, formulated in 2007, to produce its own original films based on its comic-book brands (versus just licensing the name and receiving royalties) appears to be working, as Marvel added $100 million-plus to revenue from a standstill the prior year. In its press release, the company includes a table listing all its film and TV releases planned for 2009.