Comics heroes say the quarter was Marvel(ous)

December 18, 1991|By New York Times News Service

NEW YORK -- Will Marvel Entertainment Group's shareholder reports become collector's items?

Yesterday, the comic book publisher released its first quarterly report since Marvel became a public company in July. The report came out in the form of a four-page comic book, with the Amazing Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk, two of the company's comic characters, bragging to each other about just how wonderful a quarter it was.

But if the pictures were familiar to readers, the words may have seemed a little on the formal side.

"Gross margins increased due to the favorable sales mix of publications and higher licensing revenues," Incredible Hulk explains to Spider-Man at one point. "And interest expense declined due to lower interest rates and reduced indebtedness."

But if some comics fans find that kind of talk perplexing, they are likely to understand, though perhaps not appreciate, the Hulk's next comment: "And after the quarter ended, we announced a $0.25 retail price increase for most of our comic books in 1992."

The quarter's net income more than tripled, rising to $6.7 million, or 55 cents per share, from $2.1 million, or 18 cents a share. Revenues were up 59 percent, to $38.3 million.

The results, together with expectations that comic book fans will willingly pay the higher prices, have helped raise Marvel's share price from $16.50 when it went public in July to $42.75 yesterday.

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