The entertainment industry has never been more competitive, with the drive to create valuable content pushing movie studios and other production outlets to put their best ideas forward to fight for market share. For DreamWorks Animation (NASDAQ:DWA), competitive efforts have brought mixed results, as the stock soared in 2013 only to give back most of its gains the subsequent year. Coming into Thursday afternoon's first-quarter financial report, DreamWorks investors were prepared for the company to keep losing money in its efforts to restructure itself into a more viable business entity going forward. However, the magnitude of the losses and the extent to which its revenue could post gains were still open questions. Let's look more closely at DreamWorks Animation's latest results and how its long-term strategy is playing out.
Another waiting game for DreamWorks Animation
DreamWorks Animation gave investors mixed results during the first quarter. Revenue gains of 13% to $166.5 million were somewhat better than most of those following the stock had expected, pointing to the success of the company's feature-animation strategy. Yet the company reported a net loss of $54.8 million, equating to $0.64 per share. Even after adjusting for restructuring costs, adjusted net losses of $0.25 per share marked only the beginning of what most shareholders see as another losing year in 2015 for the studio.
Taking a closer look at the report, DreamWorks had reason to be optimistic. Revenue from the Feature Film segment rose 16% to $128 million, with the division reversing a loss in the year-ago quarter to post gross profit of $41 million. Most of that money came from Mr. Peabody & Sherman and How to Train Your Dragon 2, with older library titles also boosting overall results. The new release of Home played a relatively small role in the quarter, adding just $2.9 million, but with the movie having been released on March 27, most of the film's $154 million in domestic box office receipts will hit DreamWorks' books in the second quarter.
At the same time, sales from the Television Series and Specials segment showed little change from last year, although gross profits fell almost 40% as a result of higher marketing costs. The Consumer Products segment enjoyed 25% better revenue, pulling in more location-based entertainment initiative revenue, and New Media posted double-digit percentage gains in revenue as well.
CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg remained focused on the long haul. "While 2015 is a transition year for us," Katzenberg said, "the worldwide box office performance of Home serves as early evidence that the changes we're making in the core feature animation business are working." Katzenberg also pointed to Emmy wins for its All Hail King Julian animated television show as a cause for celebration.
What does the restructuring plan look like for DreamWorks Animation?
A closer look at the restructuring charges shows just how much DreamWorks is investing in its future. Of the $31.9 million in charges related to the restructuring, $6.1 million will come from employee-related costs, including employee layoffs, while $16.5 million will go toward remedying excess staffing and paying other costs to change its feature-film lineup. Another $9.3 million will come from the closure of the DreamWorks facility in Redwood City.
DreamWorks also took some steps to shore up its finances. The company amended its revolving credit facility during the quarter, adding an additional $50 million to the line and extending its term through early 2020. DreamWorks currently has almost half a billion dollars of liquidity available, giving it some flexibility to pursue opportunities that might come up over time.
DreamWorks shareholders were uncertain about how to take the latest report, with shares initially selling off in after-hours trading but then bouncing back toward the unchanged level. Regardless of what shares do in the short run, DreamWorks needs to make good on the promise of its restructuring efforts in order to reassure long-term investors that it has what it takes to compete in the cutthroat entertainment industry going forward.