Marvel Ent. has heroic quarter

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Marvel Entertainment beat quarterly financial expectations, raised its guidance for next year and spurred a 16% rally in its shares Monday, making it the best performing stock on The Hollywood Reporter Showbiz 50 index.

The company said strong sales in toys and clothing related to "Spider-Man 3" helped it to record net income of $36.3 million in the third quarter, up from $13.2 million in the same quarter last year. On a per-share basis, the company earned 45 cents, well ahead of the 28 cents that Wall Street analysts had expected.

Revenue rose 34% to $123.6 million, crushing Wall Street estimates of just $91 million. Licensing sales, which more than doubled from last year, was at $66 million with $24.2 million coming from the "Spider-Man" franchise.

Publishing sales were also strong, driven by "World War Hulk" and Stephen King's "Dark Tower" series.

Marvel said it now expects per-share net income for the year of up to $1.65 while analysts were predicting about $1.44. Marvel expects revenue for the year of as much as $475 million as opposed to the $431 million analysts had predicted.

Marvel shares rose $3.77 Monday to $27.08.

Among films Marvel is developing itself, it has completed principal photography on "Iron Man" scheduled for release May 2 and has commenced principal photography on "The Incredible Hulk," set for release June 13.

As for movies from other studios though based on Marvel characters, "Punisher 2" from Lionsgate is in principal photography and slated for release next year and "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" from Fox is slated for May 1, 2009.

Marvel also has stage-play "Spider-Man the Musical" in development with music from U2's Bono and the Edge, and has "Iron Man" and "The Incredible Hulk" video games targeted for next year from Sega.
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