DreamWorks Animation, the Glendale studio behind the "Shrek" and "Kung Fu Panda" movies, saw its revenues jump 26% to $136.1 million in the first quarter.
The company said it earned a profit of $9.1 million, or 11 cents a share, the first quarter of the year, a 3% increase over last year, reflecting international ticket sales from the Shrek spinoff, "Puss in Boots." The movie grossed $554 million worldwide since its release last October.
The results exceeded the consensus estimate among analysts, who had forecast a profit of 9 cents per share and revenues of $134 million.
Investors will be closely watching the performance of DreamWorks' next release, "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted," which will debut June 8. The film will compete with Disney's animated feature "Brave," which will also hit theaters in June.
Another question mark for investors is whether DreamWorks will seek to release its own movies once its current distribution deal with Paramount Pictures expires later this year. DreamWorks has signaled that it may chose to distribute its own movies. Last year, the studio tapped respected distribution veteran Chuck Viane to advise the company on its options.
“It would be premature to presume that self-distribution is not a serious and viable option for us,’’ DreamWorks Animation Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg told analysts, adding that he expected to reach a decision by Labor Day.
Katzenberg said he was “very excited” about opportunities to expand business in China, where the company recently announced plans to build a studio in Shanghai with two state-owned Chinese media companies.
He declined to comment on letters DreamWorks and several other studios received from federal regulators investigating allegations of inappropriate dealings with Chinese officials.
DreamWorks' quarterly results were released after the markets closed on Wednesday. Amid concerns of slowing DVD sales, DreamWorks' shares have fallen about one third in the last year, closing Wednesday at $18.46, down 2%.
-- Richard Verrier
Photo: A scene from upcoming DreamWorks Animation film "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted," to be released by Paramount Pictures in June. Credit: Paramount Pictures/DreamWorks Animation