DreamWorks Animation (NASDAQ: DWA) on Tuesday afternoon posted second-quarter earnings results that beat Wall Street's forecasts on the top and bottom lines. The film producer's sales jumped 40% higher -- and its net loss wasn't nearly as bad as the $0.26 per share hit that investors were expecting. Yet a downgraded outlook for its consumer products division sent the stock lower.
Here's a big-picture look at how DreamWorks' headline results stacked up against Wall Street's Q2 targets:
|Revenue||$167 million||$171 million|
|Profit||$-0.26 per share||$-0.13 per share|
Revenue benefited from the strong international performance of Home, which is DreamWorks' only feature film release of the year. Home has collected $384 million in global box office receipts, enough to make it the company's biggest hit since The Croods in 2013.
DreamWorks' TV business also did well this quarter, as show deliveries to streaming giant Netflix helped revenue more than double to $54 million. This segment is becoming nicely profitable for DreamWorks, boasting a gross margin of 35%. Management is on track to reach its target of as much as $250 million in TV revenue this year and profit of about $75 million.
While the feature films and television businesses are performing as expected, the consumer products division, which is critical to DreamWorks' diversification plans, isn't. Sales in that unit fell by 30% and profit tumbled to $2 million from $7 million. Management also significantly scaled back its forecast in a conference call with analysts, which is likely why the stock fell on Wednesday after rising immediately following the earnings report.
Executives had high hopes for consumer product sales just a few months ago. Here's what CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg said in DreamWorks' fourth-quarter conference call:
We expect our consumer product business to generate revenue in the $130 million range in 2015, effectively doubling its 2014 performance with gross profit margin in the mid 30% range.
Now DreamWorks sees consumer product sales remaining flat instead of doubling. A key factor behind that huge forecast shift was the fact that management appears to have overestimated the Netflix streaming platform as a driver of product sales. DreamWorks launched several hits on the service this year, but they haven't boosted toy sales at anything close to the rate that a feature film like How to Train Your Dragon 2 can.
"This is new territory for us," Katzenberg said about Netflix shows in this week's conference call. "How long before those [series] land and are successful, and how quickly the consumer product [growth] follows from that, is a learning curve for us," he explained.
If DreamWorks can't rely on TV hits to lift its consumer products division, then the pressure to generate results falls disproportionately on feature films. And that risky situation, with focused exposure to one or two theatrical releases each year, is exactly what management has been hoping to change with its push into diversifying its revenue streams.