Marvel Posts Marvel-ous Profits, Sees Modest 2009

Comic book publisher Marvel Entertainment posted a quarterly profit that topped estimates, helped by earlier-than-expected box office and DVD revenue from its film "Iron Man."

Iron Man
Iron Man

The company reported a third-quarter net profit of $50.6 million Tuesday, or 64 cents a share, on net sales of $182.5 million. Analysts had forecast a profit of 52 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates. It now expects earnings of $2.45 to $2.65 a share on revenue of $640 million to $670 million.

Marvel had earlier forecast earnings of $1.55 and $1.75 a share for 2008, on sales of $450 million to $480 million.

For the third quarter, the company said it recognized about $60 million in film revenue associated with the box office performance of "Iron Man." Film production segment sales for the period were $90.2 million.

“So far, we haven’t seen any material impact on our business but we are being prudent,” said David Maisel, Marvel’s chairman in an interview on CNBC. “We are very strong in terms of our balance sheet, we continue to have no recourse debt and over $100 million in cash and even after funding our next two movies, Iron Man 2 and Thor [due in 2010], funding a third of the budgets ourselves. We project to have over a $100 million left over of cash at the end of ’09.”

Marvel has partnership with Viacom’s Paramount Pictures and plans to distribute four films through 2011. Marvel plans to release “Captain America” and “Avengers” in 2011.

“We’re very excited about that deal,” said Maisel. “We very much enjoyed working with Paramount on Iron Man and had a very productive and effective business relationship…Given the success we’ve had with our films we do expect that we will have less cost in terms of distribution cost and better economics with our future movies...”

Maisel said the company is developing a Broadway musical version of “Spiderman” and is also working on opening a theme park.

—Reuters contributed to this story.