Marvel Q1 spurred by super DVD sales

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Shares of Marvel Entertainment soared 6% on Tuesday after the superhero powerhouse posted a practically unchanged first- quarter profit that beat expectations, driven by licensing and the DVD performance of "Iron Man" and "The Incredible Hulk."

Marvel shares rose $1.92 to $33.02 and are up 43% in seven weeks.

The company reported a profit of $44.5 million, down 2% from the year-ago period. Revenue jumped 75% to $197 million.

Marvel raised its revenue target and the low end of its profit guidance for 2009 in response to its solid first-quarter performance and a decline in the anticipated full-year tax rate.

Marvel's film production segment contributed $90.4 million, two-thirds of that coming from DVD sales of "Hulk" and the rest from "Iron Man" DVDs.

The rest of Marvel's revenue came from licensing ($80.8 million) and publishing ($25.8 million).

David Maisel, chairman of Marvel Studios, told analysts Tuesday that the nearly $160 million worldwide opening of "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" from Fox "further solidifies the first weekend in May as the kickoff of the summer movie season with a Marvel film."

Marvel's next self-produced films are "Iron Man 2," set for release on May 7, 2010; "Thor," due May 20, 2011; "The First Avenger: Captain America," scheduled for July 22, 2011; and "The Avengers," slotted for May 4, 2012.

"Spider-Man 4" from Columbia and Sony is set for May 6, 2011, and the musical stage-play "Spider-Man, Turn off the Dark" is scheduled for Feb. 18, 2010.

Two analysts asked about the casting of "Thor," following up on speculation the studio might have been having trouble landing its chosen actor.

"To my knowledge, we have not made any formal offers," Maisel said. "So those rumors are obviously false."

Marvel said to look for a "Thor" casting announcement in the next few months. (partialdiff)
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