Marvel Sees First Quarter Decline
As anticipated, Marvel's net sales decreased over last years first quarter period due in part to film licensing revenue. The year-ago quarter included a non-refundable advance from Sony Pictures Entertainment for the feature film license of Spider-Man, as well as an advance from Universal Studios for a feature film based on The Hulk. Also, year-ago first quarter revenues reflected strong initial distribution shipments for the Toy Biz divisions new line of World Championship Wrestling (WCW) products. As a result, the first quarter of 2000s gross profit decreased to US$20.8 million from $42.6 million a year previous. The Spider-Man license revenue was responsible for roughly 46% of the decline while approximately 41% or $8.9 million of the decrease was attributable to the decline in sales for the Toy Biz division, largely due to WCW products leveling off in sales. The Company's publishing division achieved modestly higher gross profit and EBITDA on a 4% decline in revenue. Commenting on Marvel's near future, president and CEO Peter Cuneo said, "In slightly more than two months, Marvel will achieve the release of the first major feature film based on Marvel characters: 20th Century Fox's X-MEN: THE MOVIE, scheduled for release July 14, 2000. Understandably, there are many reasons to be optimistic, as this is just the first of a five-feature film lineup presently scheduled for release over the next three years. These global entertainment events, which should serve to provide tremendous visibility for our characters, brands and our company, include SPIDER-MAN from Sony Pictures due in November 2001, and three other motion pictures slated for release over the next three years. We believe these productions can provide Marvel with substantial platforms from which we look to capitalize on opportunities across multiple markets." Cuneo continued to say, "On the toy front, early indications point to growing trade interest in new Toy Biz product lines such as POKÉMAN Collector Marbles and V-mail as well as existing lines, Kinder-Garden Babies and Miss Party Surprise. The advance "buzz" and order activity for our line of X-MEN action figures leads us to believe that it could become a very successful line. We intend to maximize and extend the awareness generated by the feature film through the launch on television of a Marvel-produced Fall 2000 animated X-MEN series on the Kids WB network." Cuneo concluded by saying, "Given the broad base of activities slated for our licensing, publishing and toy businesses over the remainder of the year, we believe that our results for the full year 2000 are on track to approximate the consolidated revenue and EBITDA levels achieved in 1999, despite a substantial planned increase in spending to expand Marvel.com." Marvel's financial position remains strong with approximately $57.8 million in cash as of March 31, 2000 and working capital of $81.1 million.