US comics publisher Marvel Entertainment has reported a huge growth in its operating results for its second quarter and six months ended 30th June 2008, with licensing and film revenues helping to swell its coffers – but comic sales have declined after a strong start to the year.
Its earnings estimate for the rest of 2008 proved a disappointment and despite a 60 per cent rise in profits, shares in the company dropped in price, although still better than this time last year, an indication perhaps of just how difficult things are in the publishing world at present, and, indeed, the wider economy.
Net sales across all its operations for the second quarter of 2008 are reported as $156.9 million, with a net income of $46.7 million (nearly £24 million), compared to net sales of $101.5 million and net income of $29.1 million (£14.8 million) in the first quarter.
Income from licensing deals and and initial contributions from film production, with foreign pre-sales of Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk helping spur the year-over-year improvement, much to the delight of Marvel executives. These latest figures do not include box-office receipts for the two films, totaling at over $800 million to date worlwide.
“Revenue from Marvel’s film production segment commenced in the second quarter with the release of Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk,” commented Morton Handel, who has been has been the Chairman of Marvel’s Board of Directors of Marvel since October 1998 and seen the company go through difficult times. Although analysts have expressed disappointment at the figures, Hanel remains biullish.
“We’re very pleased with the success of these films, which have generated $817 million in global box office receipts,” he said, ” $571 million [£396 million] from Iron Man and $246 million [£126 million] from The Incredible Hulk — with Iron Man still to open in Japan.
“Because of the timing of our distributors’ revenue reporting, our Q2 results did not reflect any revenue from the films’ box office performance. We did, however, record initial revenues in Q2 from the foreign pre-sales of both movies. In addition, the high level of media and consumer interest in these two films helped to drive strong results in our domestic and international licensing divisions in the period.”
Forbes. com reports that Marvel expects its film production arm to add sales in a range of $65 million to $80 million in 2008 while licensing is expected to contribute $260 million to $270 million, and publishing is expected to bring in $130 million to $135 million.
“With growing international sales to complement our already strong domestic licensing program and a focus on generating higher value from online and interactive activities, we believe Marvel is well positioned as we develop our pipeline of future self-produced feature films,” Handel feels.
Upcoming feature film projects include Iron Man 2, Thor, The First Avenger: Captain America and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Despite the success of the company’s licensing and film arms, comic sales apear to have fallen, but Marvel puts the decline down to strong sales in the first quarter, such as limited edition comic book series The Dark Tower and The Death of Captain America, which have skewed results.
Marvel still commands a strong position in the monthly Top 300 comic sales lists of comics sold via Diamond Distributors, pulished by icv2.com, with even mid-range titles, such as Captain Britain& MI13, written by British author Paul Cornell selling some 37,900 copies, far higher than Virgin’s Dan Dare title which sold just over 6,400 copies in May. But outside the comics retail industry last month, only two titles in the Top 20 Graphic Novels sold in US bookstores were published by Marvel, with manga publishers Viz and TokyoPop taking the lion’s share of the top spots.