UPDATE, 9:40 AM: Hasbro’s in “active discussions” with Paramount, Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg about a fourth Transformers, CEO Brian Goldner told analysts in a conference call today. ”Hopefully I’ll have more news for you next quarter,” he said. The most recent edition, Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, will generate revenues for Hasbro between the $482M from the first film in the series in 2007 and $592M from the previous one in 2009. In other movie news, the company is reworking the budget for a film based on its Ouija game in the hope of reviving the project that Universal recently dropped. Battleship is on course to be released worldwide in April and in May in the U.S., with G.I. Joe: 2 following in June. Hasbro is working with J.J. Abrams on Micronaughts. Goldner says Hasbro is “actively developing” scripts for films based on Monopoly, Risk, and Clue as well as “projects yet to be named.” Goldner says, though, that Hasbro won’t produce its own films.
The CEO adds that cable channel The Hub is “making great progress” and is “ahead of plan” overseas where its programming runs in 142 countries. The channel is in 61M homes domestically; talks to increase distribution on cable are “going quite well,” although Goldner wouldn’t be specific. Ratings are up. On the advertising side, the channel has 120 more sponsors than it did last year when it was still Discovery Kids.
Goldner’s presentation impressed investors: Hasbro shares are up about 1% in midday trading. They opened down after the company reported 3Q earnings below expectations.
PREVIOUS, 4:00 AM: Hasbro 3Q earnings were lighter than Wall Street expected, in spite of a healthy upturn at its entertainment and licensing segment, which benefited from Paramount’s Transformers: Dark Of The Moon and a onetime payment from Universal Studios. The toy company today reported net income of $171M for the quarter, up 10% vs the same period last year, on revenues of $1.38B, up 5%. Earnings at $1.27 a share missed analysts’ target of $1.30. They also expected revenues to hit $1.45B. The drag came from U.S. and Canadian sales of games and puzzles, and products targeted to boys and girls — all of the categories declined. But entertainment and licensing revenues soared 69% to $46.3M while the unit’s operating income was up 159.3% to $15.3M. The company didn’t break out financials for The Hub, the cable channel for children it operates with Discovery. CEO Brian Goldner says Hasbro has “a great lineup of innovative, sought-after toys and games for the holiday, many of which are only recently hitting retail shelves” and expects strong sales overseas. The company’s share price has fallen about 25% over the last 12 months, closing Friday at $34.75 — and CFO Deborah Thomas says Hasbro repurchased 5.6M shares in 3Q at an average price of $37.74.