Record 2008 for Marvel

Film slate drives net income; licensing segment sales better than expected.
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Marvel Entertainment has today reported record net sales, net income and earnings per share for its full-year 2008, with its film slate driving the performance.

For the period, Marvel reported net sales of $676.2 million and net income of $205.5 million - this is compared to net sales of $485.8 million and net income of $139.8 million in 2007.

The growth mainly reflects the contribution made by Marvel Studios, which released its first two films - Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk - last summer.

Net sales in Q4, meanwhile, stood at $224.3 million, while net income was $63.0 million, up from $109.3 million and $27.6 million for Q4 2007.

However, in the licensing segment - although net sales were better than expected due to stronger anticipated revenue from international licensing and Marvel's Spider-man film merchandising joint venture - total revenue slipped slightly.

Licensing segment operating income declined to $36.9 million in Q4 2008 from $47.5 million in Q4 2007, while for the full-year the total licensing segment stood at $292.8 million, down from $343.6 million in 2007.

"Our fourth quarter and full year results reflect the benefits derived from our strategy to produce our own feature films," commented Marvel's chairman, Morton Handel. "In addition to providing a substantial contribution to our operating results, the 2008 theatrical releases have raised the level of global awareness for Marvel and two of our key brands."

The next self-produced film from Marvel is Iron Man 2, which is scheduled for release in May 2010, followed by Thor (July 2010), The First Avenger: Captain America (May 2011) and The Avengers (July 2011).

However, X-Men Origins: Wolverine (pictured) will be released through Fox on May 1st 2009.

Marvel also has a busy slate of TV productions, including Super Hero Squad (scheduled for Q3 09 network release on Cartoon Network) and The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes (due in Q3 2011).

"Underscoring the strength of our financial performance is the growing worldwide prominence of, and consumer affinity for, the Marvel brand as well as our character brands," Handel continued. "Marvel is keenly focused on developing our brands and on the partners we choose to work with around the world.

"A recent example of our partner focus was last week's multi-year extension of our master toy licence agreement with Hasbro." (Click here for full story).

Marvel also reiterated the 2009 financial guidance it initially provided on November 4th 2008. It expects between $415-$460 million in net sales and between $80-$105 million in net income.

The company anticipates that licensing segment revenue will decline in 2009, with the division expected to contribute net sales of approximately $180-$200 million for the period.


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