Marvel raises profit forecast

From Times Wire Services

As "Iron Man" smashed its way to an estimated $201 million in worldwide box-office sales, the firm that financed the film, Marvel Entertainment Inc., raised its profit forecast for the year and promised to release "Iron Man 2" in 2010.

New York-based Marvel said first-quarter profit fell 3% to $45.2 million, or 58 cents a share, but that beat analysts' prediction of 43 cents, according to Thomson Financial.

Revenue declined 26% to $112.6 million from $151.4 million, but also beat analysts' estimate of $111.7 million.

The company raised the lower end of its guidance for revenue for the year by $10 million, to $370 million to $400 million, and bumped up both ends of its net profit forecast range by 5 cents to $1.35 to $1.55.

Analysts said the figures underestimated the boost that Marvel would get from "Iron Man."

"This performance far exceeded our estimate," Stifel Nicolaus & Co. analyst Drew Crum said. He expects the film to add 55 cents a share to profit for the year, up from an estimate of 15 cents.

Marvel shares jumped $2.85, or 9.4%, to $33.10.

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