If there's one place on Earth that constitutes a veritable utopia for men, it must be the Playboy Mansion. However, reality intrudes every now and then in the form of earnings announcements. Playboy Enterprises
The company saw total net revenues appreciate by an OK 5% to $82.8 million in the fiscal second quarter. Total operating income came in at $7.3 million -- a whopping 135% increase over the comparable period last year. And net income was $4.6 million ($0.14 per diluted share) versus a net loss of $8.3 million ($0.26 per diluted share) last year (the second quarter of 2004 saw a $5.9 million charge related to some debt elimination).
Playboy's entertainment and licensing segments pulled their respective weights in helping the jump seen in operating income. The entertainment segment took in $9.9 million of operating income, compared with $3.0 million in last year's quarter; licensing took in $3.9 million against $2.4 million.
Unfortunately, we get to the publishing segment, which saw an operating loss of $2.3 million compared with the previous year's $2.1 million profit. The decline in the stature of the flagship Playboy magazine continues. Subscriptions are down, newsstand revenues are down, adverting sales are down -- it isn't a happy situation.
Sure, Playboy might be making up for some of this negative scene via its television programming and online businesses, but the drag in publishing has to be reversed. This is getting to be old news, of course. I've written about the challenge to Playboy's brand in a previous piece. Some new marketing campaign is obviously in order. I always find the lagging nature of the magazine inexplicable -- one would figure that naked centerfolds would always be in vogue, even in print. But when the times change and the competition increases (from other magazines such as Maxim, Stuff, etc.) -- well, any big brand can be at risk.
I'm confident CEO Christie Hefner will come to terms with the problems at Playboy and figure something out to give the impotent sales a shot of marketing Viagra. Perhaps the upcoming reality show set in the -- and I say this with reverence -- legendary Playboy Mansion show on the E! channel will, in some fashion, help spread the word about the print brand (although one Fool community member thinks the series will show how the company is more than just the magazine). More mainstream programs like this could indeed assist in the generation of long-term shareholder value, which I believe Playboy's stock possesses. It's done well over the past year, although it doesn't look like it is exactly killing the S&P 500 index. Going forward, I expect a volatile ride, but I also see opportunity. In sum, Hef and his Bunnies should remain a blue chip in the adult entertainment industry for years to come.
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Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns none of the companies mentioned. He would love to someday stay at the Playboy Mansion for an extended period of time so he could teach the Playmates how to invest their nest eggs Foolishly. The Fool has a disclosure policy.