Dreamworks Animation: Q4 and Yr End Earnings

DreamWorks Animation SKG (NYSE: DWA), announced a Q4 net loss of $21.3m (20 cents a share) compared to positive income of $63.2m (61 cents) in the prior year.  Sales were up 18% to $204m.  The loss was less than the average analyst expectation.
For the full year profit was down 86% to just $15.1m from $104.6m in 2005. 

In an ironic decision, given the title of the movie involved, the company lowered the value of its Flushed Away production by $109m after the movie’s British style humor failed to woo US audiences in theaters.  As a result of the failure, and past write-downs for Chicken Run (2000) and Wallace & Gromit (2005), which came from the same partnership, DreamWorks ended its partnership with UK based Aardman Animation Ltd.

With production costs on animated features exceeding $100m on average, plus marketing expenses upwards of $125m write-downs for under performing features can be a large drag on earnings. The release of Shrek 3 in May and Bee Movie later in 2007 are expected to provided upside.

With the release of earnings, DreamWorks Animation also announced a $150m stock buyback.  Paul Allen, of Microsoft fame, remains the company’s largest shareholder with approximately 21m shares, an amount equal to roughly 25% of the equity.

More detailed press coverage of DreamWorks Animation’s finances can be found at:

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Blockbuster Q4 Earnings

Blockbuster  (NYSE: BBI, BBI.B), reported Q4 earnings.

For the quarter, net income was down to $12.9m ($.05/share) from $18m ($.09/share).  Revenues increased 1.4% to $1.51b.  Online subscribers increased by 700k during the period.  Operating income totaled 445.8m, down from $57m in the prior year.

For the full year, 2006 revenues decreased 3.5% $5.52 billion – attributed by the company to the closing of stores.  Operating income for the year was at $79.1m,  versus a loss of $388m in the prior year (which included a $341m non-cash charge).

More detailed press coverage on Blockbuster’s finances can be found at:

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Marvel (MVL) Q4 Earnings

Marvel (NYSE: MVL) , owner publisher and licensor of the Marvel comic book character library, report weak Q4 earnings.  

Net income was down 14c a share to $11.7m from $25.9m the prior year.  Toy and publishing segments were up, but the licensing division was a drag on earnings.  4th quarter net sales were only $25.5m down from $81.7m last year.  Among that decrease, Marvel’s joint venture with Sony for the Spider-Man franchise provided sales of only $600k off of $4.3m in the prior.  As a positive note, however, the May release of Spiderman 3 should bring positive results in the coming quarters.

Also of interest, Marvel has secured $500m in financing to build their own internal film unit which will allow them to release movies without the revenue share needed in a joint venture.  This both increases the company’s risk exposure but also its potential revenue upside.  Iron Man and Hulk 2 are due to be the first tiles for release from this in house studio with likely targets set for summer/winter 2008.

More detailed press coverage on Marvel’s finances can be found at:

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Tribune Period 1 earnings

Tribune Co (NYSE: TRB), reported its summary of revenues and advertising revenue for its so-called Period 1 ended Feb 4. 

Publishing Revenues were down 6% in January tp $345m.  Circulation revenues were down 5.2%. Advertising revenues were down 7.3%.  Consolidated revenues were down 5% from last years $465m. 

In the broadcast and entertainment division revenues in January were down 1.4% off $98m last year.

The company continues to work through its defined “Self Help” plan.  Some properties are being divesting and there are regular rumors and discussions about larger scale changes including strategic investment or buyout.

More detailed press coverage on TRB’s finances can be found at:

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Getty Images adds Celeb Archive

Getty Images, one of the dominant companies in the Stock Photo industry, and a company comfortable with growth via acquisition, announced it would acquire the holdings of MediaVast, Inc (the parent of photoservice Wireimage) for approximately $200m in cash. The deal will give Getty an increased archive of celebrity photos and video to add to its already vast library of images and video, including the royalty-free istockphoto.com that it acquired in 2006. (Wireimage owns the largest entertainment photo and video archive in the industry).

Wireimage will retain its photographers, executive staff and name. Wireimage and all of Mediavast’s other assets, which also include the Film Magic and Contour Photos business lines, will be incorporated in the editorial division of Getty’s business which focuses on providing images for new services.

The deal will likely close in the next two months but may draw some antitrust regulatory oversight or review before being completed.

Offshoring Hollywood?

I looked at the prospect of hiring some off-shore programmers to handle a few items for this site. From a cost standpoint, the cost savings were a tempting lure for a small site like Metue, especially in comparison to hiring programmers locally in Silicon Valley.  Ultimately I did all but a couple tiny things myself.  For me, I saw it as an opportunity to get my hands dirty and learn more about web development. My tasks were also not that complicated.

If I had a big project, or needed more specialized services – and if I had the means to manage the workflow effectively (something not as easily done with a single project freelancer) I’d seriously consider using programming services overseas – India, Eastern Europe etc.  

On the heals of my experience, I wasn’t surprised when I saw news that Sony’s Special Effects and animation arm, Sony Pictures Imageworks (SPI) is expanding to far beyond it’s Culver City campus’ geography.

hollywood outsourcing imageSPI acquired a 51 percent equity stake in Chennai India based effects and animation studio FrameFlow.  FrameFlow will change its name to Imageworks India and will work together with Sony Pictures Imageworks’ facility in Culver City, California. Click to Read More

Tribune Co. Still Dating, No Engagement Yet

The list of potential suitors for the Tribune Co. is starting to read like a supermarket tabloid about celebrity couples.  The Tribune Co which owns a range of media and trib-datingentertainment properties including the LA Times, Newsday, more than 20 TV stations, the Chicago Cubs, and sizeable investments in Food Network, Career Builder, Topix and others,  has had itself on the market since around September 2006 around which time S&P lowered the company’s credit status to “junk.”  

Since special committee was formed by the Board of Directors to oversee the process, rumors and reports have put Tribune in bed with virtually every private equity company from the Blackstone Group to the Carlyle Group.   Billionaire moguls have also been rumored on the dance card.  Last month the Financial Times reported Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp was interested in taking a substantial minority stake.  The Wall Street Journal separately reported investors Eli Broad and Ronald Burke had submitted a bid.  Now the Chicago Tribune is reporting that Chicago local, and real estate mogul, Sam Zell is trying to structure a deal.

Why is this deal so hard to get done?  The simple answer is some combination of three things Click to Read More

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