Marvel profit up in third quarter

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Marvel Entertainment, which licenses comic book characters like Spider-Man, posted a higher third-quarter profit, helped by worldwide licensing operations and growth in its publishing segment, and raised its 2007 outlook, sending shares up more than 20%.

Net income for the quarter rose to $36.3 million, or 45 cents a share, from $13.2 million, or 16 cents a share, a year ago.

Net sales rose 3% to $123.6 million.

Analysts had expected earnings of 28 cents a share, before exceptional items, on revenue of $90.52, according to Reuters Estimates.

Net sales at its licensing segment, which benefited from strong contributions related to Spider-Man 3 consumer merchandise licensing, rose 13% and sales at its publishing segment rose 1%.

"The publishing segment continues to benefit from strong sales of event-driven imprints such as World War Hulk and Stephen King's Dark Tower series," Marvel's chairman, Morton Handel, said in a statement.

For 2007, Marvel now sees earnings of $1.60-$1.65 a share, on revenue of $455 million-$475 million. It had earlier forecast earnings of $1.30-$1.55 a share, on revenue of $375 million-$435 million.

Analysts on average were expecting a profit of $1.44 a share, before items, on revenue of $431.8 million.

Marvel shares rose $4.69 to $28 in early electronic trade, after closing at $23.31 Friday on the New York Stock Exchange.
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