Pixar Animation Studios Inc. reported on Thursday that its quarterly profit more than tripled as movie “Finding Nemo” continued to be a hit with international audiences in theaters and on DVD and home video in the United States.
First-quarter net income rose to $26.7 million, or 46 cents per share, from $8.2 million, or 15 cents per diluted share, in the prior-year quarter, the San Francisco Bay Area company and creator of “Toy Story” and “Monsters, Inc.” said.
Analysts on average had expected Pixar to post earnings of 39 cents per share, far ahead of Pixar’s forecast of 30 cents.
Pixar’s five films have made $2.6 billion at the box office so far, a string of hits that has astounded Hollywood and investors.
Analysts are divided on whether Pixar’s shares are overvalued and also are waiting to see which studio Pixar will choose to replace Walt Disney Co. as its distribution partner starting in 2006.
Revenue rose to $53.8 million million from $18.7 million as “Finding Nemo,” rolled into overseas theaters, and DVD and video sales began in some regions.
The tale about a father fish’s search for his lost son, which has become the top-grossing animated feature ever, has posted more than $850 million in global ticket sales.
“Pixar is off to a strong start in 2004 with ’Finding Nemo’s worldwide home video sales already surpassing ’Monsters, Inc.”’ Chief Executive Steve Jobs said in a statement.
Pixar’s next film, “The Incredibles,” a comedy about a family of super-heroes, debuts Nov. 5, and Jobs said it was almost done.
Sanders Morris Harris analyst David Miller, who had forecast quarterly earnings of 47 cents per share, said the company was very conservative in its guidance.
He saw News Corp Ltd. studio 20th Century Fox and Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros. in a dead heat as the leading contenders to distribute Pixar films, followed by Sony Corp. unit Sony Pictures Entertainment.
But he said that Pixar did not need to announce the deal before May 2005, which would give it 18 months before the first post-Disney film opens. “It all comes down to who distributes the best internationally,” he said.
Pixar earlier this year said it would pull out of a distribution deal with Disney after “Cars,” the seventh film produced together, debuts in the holiday season of next year.
Pixar’s shares are up more than 10 percent in the last year but down about 5 percent in the last six months. They fell 19 cents to $66.06 on the Nasdaq on Thursday before results were announced.