Foolish Forecast: Larval Marvel

To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.
--
William Blake, "Auguries of Innocence"

Next Tuesday, comic-book powerhouse Marvel Enterprises (NYSE: MVL  ) reports first-quarter earnings, and this Fool donned skintight spandex under his jingly cap to set the stage for you. In this, my final National Poetry Month contribution, I hope to invoke a sense of the rich opportunities ahead.

What analysts say:

  • Buy, sell, or waffle? Seventeen analysts follow Marvel; six of them carry a buy rating on the stock, while the other 11 are holds. None advocate a sale today. In our Motley Fool CAPS investor database, more than 550 of our 50,000 users have rated the stock, giving it a respectable four-star rating overall.

  • Revenues. Wall Street calls for about $102.5 million this time, 14% more than last year's $90.1 million.

  • Earnings. The average analyst wants to see $0.35 of profit per share, up from $0.19 produced a year ago.

What management does:
Yes, the annual growth rates look rather bleak, but you have to remember that we're comparing one fairly weak year at the box office to another. That will change in a hurry, since the company is ramping up a much heavier volume of superhero flicks than it previously has, including this coming Friday's Spider-Man 3 premiere.

That's revenue for the next few quarters, though, as Spidey rolls through the cinema / pay-per-view / DVD release cycle, along with the inevitable tie-in toys, clothes, video games. For now, Marvel should be fueled by Nicolas Cage in the $110 million production Ghost Rider, which has brought in worldwide box office receipts of about $220 million so far.

Margins

9/05

12/05

3/06

6/06

9/06

12/06

Gross

85.2%

87.1%

83.5%

80.2%

76.7%

70.6%

Operating

47.4%

47.6%

39.8%

36.9%

34.1%

34.7%

Net

28.6%

26.3%

24.6%

22.3%

19.0%

16.7%

FCF/Revenue

24.9%

34.5%

49.5%

45.6%

48.8%

42.1%

YOY Growth

9/05

12/05

3/06

6/06

9/06

12/06

Revenue

(25.0%)

(23.9%)

(24.0%)

(12.9%)

2.6%

(9.9%)

Earnings

(1.1%)

(17.7%)

(23.7%)

(29.6%)

(31.9%)

(42.9%)

All data courtesy of Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's. Data reflects trailing-12-month performance for the quarters ended in the named months.

One Fool says:
Sony (NYSE: SNE  ) will grab some of the cash for Ghost Rider, and do likewise for Spider-Man 3. The game changes next year, though, when the first of Marvel's fully in-house productions hit your friendly neighborhood theater. I can't say how well something like Ant-Man or Thor will play to general audiences, but Iron Man and Captain America should be golden -- assuming that the source material is treated right.

And that's just the point. Holding the purse strings gives Marvel full creative control, which can only be good when you consider that these heroes are the lifeblood of the entire operation. If the management team and the people it hires can't be passionate about Steve Rogers and Tony Stark, they're in the wrong business.

Even under Sony's influence, Marvel and Sam Raimi have certainly done right by Peter Parker. Consider this my vote of confidence in Marvel's future.

Marvel is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Discover all of Tom and David Gardner's market-beating stock selections with a free 30-day trial subscription.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings if you like, and Foolish disclosure will help you find the road ahead. Anders will truly miss the whole poetry thing for the next 11 months.


Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (28)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Be the first one to comment on this article.

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 526942, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 8/20/2014 8:43:57 PM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...


Advertisement