It was another monster quarter for DreamWorks Animation
Riding high as Monsters vs. Aliens is closing in on $200 million in domestic box-office receipts (and $375 million worldwide), the computer-animation studio has humbled the prognosticators once again.
Revenue fell by 7% to $132 million, and earnings clocked in flat with the $0.30 a share it earned a year earlier. However, Wall Street was banking on a profit of just $0.16 a share on $116.8 million in revenue.
Analysts have a hard time modeling animation superstars. They perpetually underestimated Pixar's bottom-line potential until Disney's
Mr. Market's serial lapses are probably tied to the inability to gauge success throughout a studio's library. Monsters vs. Aliens is a hit, but the real financial contributors were last year's blockbusters Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. Those films have gone on to move 15.2 million and 10.2 million video units, respectively.
Films aren't material contributors during their theatrical runs. The real money trickles in later, after production and marketing costs are accounted for and the DVD and Blu-ray sales begin trickling in.
In short, Kung Fu Panda delivered three times the revenue of Monsters vs. Aliens during the quarter, even though it hit the local multiplex 13 months ago. Heck, the $10.1 million in revenue delivered from Broadway's Shrek the Musical nearly matched the $10.3 million in revenue recognized from Monsters vs. Aliens.
DreamWorks Animation was helped by amending its video-game licensing agreement with Activision Blizzard
DreamWorks Animation is in the right place at the right time. Sure, we're in a recession, but theaters are having a record year as cinematic escapism takes over. The studio is also helped by its backing of digital 3-D and IMAX
Katzenberg's studio isn't showing any signs of easing. If anything, the studio is picking up the pace as it sets its sights on releasing five flicks every two years, up from just two releases annually. There's never a shortage of quality animation, so DreamWorks Animation may as well keep its hit factory cranking.
Here are a few panda games to play:
- A Big Upgrade for DreamWorks Animation
- How 3-D Movies Will Save Theaters
- Here's Your Shot to Score Big
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a sucker for quality animation. Yes, he owns shares of DreamWorks Animation and Disney. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.