The card this past weekend was an exciting one. In one corner, you had General Electric
From a purely statistical viewpoint, it was King Kong all the way. According to Boxofficemojo.com, the NBC Universal picture took in $50.1 million over the three-day period in the domestic marketplace, versus $31.8 million for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Kong opened on Wednesday, however, so its total take in its first five days of release is $66.2 million -- not far from Narnia's debut weekend of $65.6 million.
There's a debate going on concerning just how good Kong's $50 million three-day performance is. Some find it disappointing. Others spin it in a positive light, especially from the angle of encouraging dynamics observed within the sales pattern of the weekend, which seems to indicate that good word of mouth is taking hold. Indeed, I've heard nice things about the picture myself.
Be that as it may, I lean toward the "it's a disappointment" camp since the marketing campaign seemed to nail the fact that this was an effects-heavy, action-oriented project from Peter Jackson (a contender for this generation's Spielberg.) I was figuring on a range of $70-$80 million for the five-day timeframe. Alas, it wasn't to be.
The run's not over yet, though, so watch for the dropoff in box office receipts next weekend. If it isn't too steep, then Kong might indeed blossom into the blockbuster it was designed to be.
GE shareholders have a very small stake in the film, but they nevertheless want to see it bring in as much cash as possible. The NBC Universal operating segment is an important part of the industrial giant. A look at GE's 3Q earnings report shows that NBC Universal grew revenues by 23% for the nine-month period, coming in at $10.5 billion. Operating profit for the same timeframe jumped 35% to $2.3 billion. For the third quarter itself, revenues declined 26% to $3.0 billion, with the operating profit rising 13% to $603 million. Kong will hopefully do its part in terms of driving revenues. Successful productions from the Universal film operations offer an offsetting element to the woes experienced at the NBC broadcasting unit.
GE recently upped its dividend by 14% to an annual payout of $1 per share, showing that it's confident about the future and its ability to generate cash flow. That gives the stock a current yield of approximately 2.8%. Although that might not sound like much, going forward, the stock should prove to be the recipient of further dividend increases. And investors would go ape for that.
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