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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.