Jim Milliot at PW summarizes Marvel’s latest financials, and they back up the idea of a softer 2nd quarter for comics publishing in general:

Publishing revenue at Marvel Entertainment was flat in the second quarter, slipping from $31.8 million to $31.7 million. Operating income fell more noticeably, dropping 6.8%, to $10.9 million. Lower level of high margin advertising and custom publishing sales were cited as the reason for the decline in earnings. For the first six months of 2009, sales in the publishing segment fell 1.4%, to $57.5 million, and operating income declined 17.1%, to $17.9 million. The company said it expects the publishing segment to finish 2009 with revenue between $115 million and $120 million; in 2008 sales were $125.4 million.


  1. If you’ve read Dan Raviv’s Comic War you can’t help but feel that Marvels head honchos must be panicking. In the introduction Raviv spotlights Avi Arads belief that if the publishing revenue is lacking than everything is in trouble. And if you look at this and the news that Marvel is not faring as well as other publishers with graphic novels in the book store market you have to wonder.

  2. On the other hand, if we take to heart the gallows humor that in these economic times “flat is the new up,” then maintaining fairly-even-to-only-slightly-reduced financials isn’t necessarily a sign of the end times. At least no more than it would be for any business…

  3. Panicking? Are you kidding? The stock is at an all-time high! Publishing may be flat right now, but merchandising/licensing and the films are bringing in millions more than the Street ever anticipated.

  4. The income from publishing is important because Marvel has, historically, been viewed as a comics publisher that uses the strength of its character base for success in other areas (licensing, movies). If the demand for comics were to drop significantly, the public image of the company would be hurt along with income. I doubt that anyone at Marvel would be comfortable relying on movies and licensing for continued earnings growth.

    Reuters, on Marvel’s 2Q earnings:

    Investors are looking to see if Marvel — whose profits have historically been spun around its most well-known character, Spider-Man — can monetize and succeed with its non-Spider-Man brands.

    Marvel will release an “Iron Man” sequel in 2010. “Thor” and the first “Avenger” movie, as well as Sony-produced (6758.T) (SNE.N) “Spider-Man 4” are slated for a 2011 release. The “Avengers” sequel will follow in 2012.

    And News Corp-owned (NWSA.O) 20th Century Fox’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” a movie based on Marvel characters, hit theaters earlier this year.

    Motley Fool’s Anders Bylund isn’t bothered by Marvel’s variable earnings, though:

    Iron Man 2 is the next big release on Marvel’s schedule, slated for a May 2010 premiere. Because it’s a fully Marvel-owned production, the profits from this probable blockbuster will roll straight into Marvel’s coffers. The movie also kicks off a four-part story arc that includes Thor and Captain America in 2011, leading into a full-fledged The Avengers movie in 2012. These are brand-name superheroes, folks.

    Marvel doesn’t need financial muscle from News Corp’s (Nasdaq: NWS) Fox Studios, Sony (NYSE: SNE) Pictures, or General Electric’s (NYSE: GE) Universal Studios anymore. Spider-Man 4 is the only co-production on Marvel’s upcoming slate, and all the rest is Marvel’s alone. And besides Walt Disney’s (NYSE: DIS) Pixar geniuses, I can’t think of a studio with a more impressive track record than Marvel’s.

  5. The publishing division of Marvel is the least important part of the company. TV,movies,and merchandise is where Marvel makes most of their money.

    That being said, if the publishing division continues to loose money/have a decrease in sales, then their might be a change in EIC in the near future (which would be a good thing, IMO). Hell, if the rumored 7 figured payment for the ownership rights of Marvelman doesn’t yield any financial success for the publishing division (and all of the other divisions of the company), the changes in the publishing division might not stop with just a change in EIC, but will also see a change in the publisher and president position (as well as many editors) in the publishing division.

  6. Actually, I’d say all the talk of shifting “events” from company-wide cross-overs to book “family” cross-overs (like x-title stuff, I gather) would be editorial acknowledging a shift in the wind.

  7. Well, speaking as a guy who has been in the trenches helping companies adapt – these drops in sales are nothing compared to what most other industries have faced. I’ve seen y-to-y drops of 30-50% in different industries.

    I think it’s time to get some Marvel stock.

  8. I don’t want to disgruntle Marvel, but higher prices and boring stories (according to some fans), may contribute.

    I think DC has the most excitement right now, and fans may not be ‘zombies’ anymore due to prices and the realization that there are other great books out there besides 851 ways to rehash Wolverine, and all.

  9. I’m glad that Marvel took a hit. Freaking $3.99 comic books for only 22 pages of material. I my not always agree with DC, but I thank them for more material for the $3.99 books.