UPDATE, 1:01 PM: Investors seemed to sour on the numbers over the course of the trading day, with DreamWorks Animation closing at $29.05, -1.4%. Sterne Agee’s Vasily Karasyov joined the company critics saying that Mr. Peabody & Sherman “is on track to generate $310M in global box office, which would translate into an $84M write-down.”
PREVIOUS, 8:43 AM: The $32.M weekend domestic box office for Mr. Peabody & Sherman was lower than the $43.7M average for DreamWorks Animation‘s recent original films, and less than most analysts anticipated. But it was strong enough to leave the basic debate over DreamWorks Animation’s stock intact with shares up less than 1% to $29.74 in morning trading. Cowen and Co’s Doug Creutz leads the naysayers, dropping his price target for DWA to $21 from $35. Following losses for Turbo and Rise Of The Guardians, he says “the company has been piling up an increasingly alarming film body count over the past few years.” Calling P&S “just another dog,” he predicts that the film will merely break even: He’s concerned that it will struggle in the U.S. with school spring breaks delayed by the later than usual date for Easter (April 20). In addition, in seven other markets (UK, France, Argentina, Germany, Mexico, Russia, and Spain), P&S “opened 37% below The Croods and 22% below Turbo.”
Others are more hopeful. Stifel’s Benjamin Mogil acknowledges that that the domestic opening was softer than expected, but adds that its “A” rating at CinemaScore means that “the next two weeks will be critical” to see whether that translates into sales. “The movie did have a strong Friday to Saturday increase, even for a kids film, indicating strong word of mouth and reviews.” Others say that investors already recognized that P&S would disappoint: DWA’s share price is -11% since the end of January while the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 appreciated 6%. Even though “there is still financial risk” around P&S, “visibility and the box office outlook is set to improve” for DWA with the next five releases including three sequels of hit movies (How To Train Your Dragon 2, The Penguins Of Madagascar, and Kung Fu Panda 3), B. Riley and Co’s Eric Wold says. The most bullish analysis this morning comes from Janney Capital Markets’ Tony Wible who says that P&S beat his estimate for a $25M domestic open. It “will enjoy more of a tail than Turbo” since The Lego Movie has already been out a month and there’ll be scant competition until April 11 with the release of Rio 2. “International contribution, consumer product sales, and DVD demand are the biggest variables at this point,” he says.