Marvel Takes a Breather

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Marvel Entertainment (NYSE: MVL  ) is one lumpy bowl of gruel. If you can't take the thick times with the thin, you're better off with a more dependable stock. Our Income Investor team can help you out with rock-steady, boring picks like Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ  ) or Sysco (NYSE: SYY  ) .

That just leaves more of those delicious lumps for us Marvel shareholders to enjoy. Right now, the company is in between major releases and the second-quarter results are on the thin side. DVD sales and international theater releases of last year's hits Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk are trailing off; X-Men Origins: Wolverine was never expected to set the world on fire (though it has pulled in more than $360 million in worldwide ticket sales); and Iron Man 2 just wrapped its shooting schedule.

Despite the lack of obvious current hits and a global recession, Marvel collected a respectable $116 million of revenue and $0.37 of earnings per share. Management used incoming cash from Iron Man sales to pay down its debt -- and to finance the sequel. The gutsy financing facility that enabled Marvel to take control of its financial future a couple of years ago no longer looks necessary -- because it is paying off in spades early on.

Iron Man 2 is the next big release on Marvel's schedule, slated for a May 2010 premiere. Because it's a fully Marvel-owned production, the profits from this probable blockbuster will roll straight into Marvel's coffers. The movie also kicks off a four-part story arc that includes Thor and Captain America in 2011, leading into a full-fledged The Avengers movie in 2012. These are brand-name superheroes, folks.

Marvel doesn't need financial muscle from News Corp's (Nasdaq: NWS  ) Fox Studios, Sony (NYSE: SNE  ) Pictures, or General Electric's (NYSE: GE  ) Universal Studios anymore. Spider-Man 4 is the only co-production on Marvel's upcoming slate, and all the rest is Marvel's alone. And besides Walt Disney's (NYSE: DIS  ) Pixar geniuses, I can't think of a studio with a more impressive track record than Marvel's.

So I'm happy to sit through the slow quarters, quietly buying more stock if I ever see it dropping. Those fat, juicy lumps are coming -- and they're worth the wait.

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Walt Disney and Marvel Entertainment are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. Walt Disney and Sysco are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. Johnson & Johnson and Sysco are Motley Fool Income Investor picks. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares in Marvel and Disney, but he holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings or a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.

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  • Report this Comment On August 04, 2009, at 3:24 PM, Dima wrote:

    "And besides Walt Disney's (NYSE: DIS) Pixar geniuses, I can't think of a studio with a more impressive track record than Marvel's." --- 2 self made movies is hardly a track record, don't you think?

  • Report this Comment On August 06, 2009, at 4:12 PM, TMFZahrim wrote:

    Okay, self-made record isn't long enough to be impressive yet. But Marvel tends to make blockbusters even when tethered to a production partner. Think Spidey should count? X-Men? Even the bad movies (Elektra, Daredevil, and so on) make good money. I'm sticking to my version of reality ;)


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