money digest


Liberty Global eyes Virgin Media

John Malone's Liberty Global Inc. is considering bidding for U.K. cable giant Virgin Media Inc., which recently put itself on the auction block, the Financial Times reported Monday. The firm's interest is preliminary and won't necessarily lead to a bid as Liberty Global typically prefers cable assets in markets that have more growth potential than the U.K., a source said. Liberty Global officials declined comment.

'Shrek' success, 'Ratatouille' soft

A couple of industry analysts Monday commented on the boxoffice performance of big animated summer movies, with Pali Research's Richard Greenfield lauding DreamWorks Animation's "Shrek the Third." With the film's worldwide run winding down, "we now believe 'Shrek 3' will exceed $740 million in worldwide boxoffice ($90 million above our forecast heading into the movie in May and less than 20% short of 'Shrek 2's' global boxoffice in 2004)," he wrote in a report. As a result, he boosted his DWA earnings forecast for this year and next. Meanwhile, Bear Stearns analyst Spencer Wang wrote that "Ratatouille" has earned $167 million domestically in its first 25 days — 10.5% below "Cars," Pixar's film last year — putting it on track to achieve $220 million in total U.S. boxoffice, in line with his estimates. "However, the down performance for 'Ratatouille' vs. 'Cars' (despite positive reviews for the former) seems to be another data point supporting our view that CG animation is mature and that a flood of output is saturating the market," Wang said.