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Marvel revenue and net income fall with no new movies

August 4, 2009 |  6:41 am

WOlverine With no new self-financed movies on the 2009 schedule, Marvel Entertainment reported a sharp drop in earnings last quarter, but still came in ahead of expectations and raised its guidance for the full year.

Revenue for the second quarter was $116.3 million, down 26% from the same period in 2008, while net income fell 38% to $29 million. Most of the drop came from a sharp decline in the licensing segment, which last year was flush from products tied into the company's "Iron Man" and "Incredible Hulk" movies. Total licensing revenue plunged 45% to $51.8 million but was, Marvel said, higher than anticipated.

Fox's "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," based on the Marvel character and released in May, has sold $363.1 million worth of tickets worldwide. But it didn't generate any revenue for the company, reflecting how little Marvel makes off feature film licensing and why it has decided to finance its own pictures.

Revenue directly attributable to movie production rose 13% to $32.8 million, based on income received from the domestic pay TV run and continued DVD sales for last year's "Iron Man."

The company's comic book and graphic novel publishing division revenue was virtually flat from last year, at $31.7 million. But operating income fell 7% to $10.9 million, reflecting a drop in higher margin advertising.

Marvel recently wrapped photography on "Iron Man 2," which it will release next May, and has a new licensed series based on its characters called "Super Hero Squad" that will debut on Cartoon Network in September.

The company expressed stronger confidence in its full-year performance, raising the low end of its guidance for both revenue and net income. It's now expecting those to come in at between $465 million and $485 million and $95 million to $105 million, respectively. The previous bottom of 2009 guidance was $450 million and $86 million, respectively.

Marvel didn't raise the top end of its guidance, however, due to the ongoing economic downturn.

--Ben Fritz

Photo: Hugh Jackman and Liev Schrieber in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine." Credit: James Fisher / Twentieth Century Fox.