You don't need to airbrush Playboy's
A 37% increase in the company's licensing business and favorable currency exchanges from its European television operation helped offset weakness in its publishing stronghold. OK, so maybe cashing in on a weak dollar has the whiff of an airbrush. Still, there is no way that you can talk down the licensing boost.
That's the key with Playboy. Riding the bunny and its licensing appeal is what attracted David Gardner to the stock when he recommended it to Rule Breakers subscribers last year. It's paying off. Given its recent deal with the Palms casino in Las Vegas and expanding Playboy's global presence with branded stores and entertainment centers, collecting royalties and licensing revenues are the best reasons to get excited about Playboy.
The rest of the company isn't doing so hot, but that's OK. Investors have learned to treat its magazines as ambassadorial loss leaders. Surprisingly, ad revenue is climbing there despite newsstand and subscription drops. The company's online endeavors have been coming in flat, but that shouldn't surprise you. Despite the fact that Playboy's soft-core eye candy is an ideal fit in cyberspace, there's just too much free smut out there to titillate the masses. If anything, holding its own on the Web is better than the Internet declines being posted lately by raunchier rivals like New Frontier Media
It's not as competitive on the pay television front, but Playboy isn't getting a break there. A stagnant market on the boob tube (pun perhaps intended) and demanding cable and satellite programming providers have kept gains in check there, even though the subsidiary did come through with healthy operating profit gains during the quarter.
This brings us back to the power of the brand. Playboy's name won't be a hit everywhere. The company's attempt to launch a social network at PlayboyU isn't scaring anyone at Facebook or News Corp.'s
Despite raucous launch parties and a programming presence on Sirius
Does this put even more pressure on the company's licensing subsidiary? It's OK. It can handle it. Playboy is a global darling as a brand. The joint venture in Macau that will open in two years will help strengthen its presence in the East, while Vegas and European footholds will ring the registers for Playboy closer to home.
Bunny is money. Spread the word.
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz wonders if online centerfolds come with staples in the middle. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. 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.