I have written several times in the past about my extensive (and growing) collection of 1980s comedies -- a classic genre that's timeless and inspiring and, in my estimation, holds the keys to all of life's great mysteries. Oh, I grant you, Casablanca is also a fine film, but not nearly as fun to quote as Caddyshack. So, much to my wife's chagrin, all Walt Disney
And there, at the heart of the collection (if such a distinction can even be made), bathed in a soft ethereal glow like a Christmas tree in the middle of nowhere, is Clark W. Griswold and family. The piece de resistance of my exhibit is the Time Warner
Some may ask how this company makes money. After all, the last film to hit theatres, National Lampoon's Gold Diggers, may or may not have outdrawn Gigli at the box office. The most flippant (and nearly correct) response would be that it doesn't make money. Last quarter, the company posted a loss of $3.2 million on just $667,000 in revenues -- about what many other firms might spend on postage. Still, that amount represents a 144% increase over last year, and with a new stock offering in the works, the company will have even more fresh capital to put to use.
National Lampoon has recently filed to raise as much as $11.5 million, with shares to be listed on both the American Stock Exchange and Pacific Stock Exchange. About a quarter of the money is expected to help pay down debt, with the rest of the proceeds plowed back into the business. And times have changed quite a bit since the days of toga parties, food fights, and road trips to the Dexter Lake Club. Perhaps Yogurt explained it best in Spaceballs: "Merchandising -- where the real money from the picture is made."
Now, the company derives revenues from all angles -- not just licensing fees, but also book publishing, online advertising, e-commerce, a syndicated radio show, wireless content, and even spring-break travel packages to Las Vegas and Cabo San Lucas. The company also dabbles in slot-machine manufacturing -- and maybe Clark should give one a shot, as blackjack is clearly not his game. The bulk of the company's revenues, though -- about two-thirds -- comes from the National Lampoon Network, a cable comedy channel that's beamed to more than 4.8 million college students on 600 campuses nationwide.
National Lampoon has a valuable brand and some exciting new ventures, but the company's investment suitability -- much like Clark himself -- is hard to take completely seriously. Until the company can show some real progress, you might be better off burying your money in coffee cans in the back yard. Even the moose out front could have told you that.
Are you a fan of Dan Aykroyd, John Candy, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, John Cusack, and the rest of the '80s greats? Share your enthusiasm on the Fool's Great Movies board.
Fool contributor Nathan Slaughter is planning to unwind this afternoon with Fletch and Ferris Bueller. He owns none of the companies mentioned.