Toys, vidgames help co. beat analysts

NEW YORK — Marvel Comics swooped in and saved the day on Wall Street Tuesday, announcing that earnings would beat expectations on the back of strong licensing revenue from such film properties as Hulk, Daredevil and the X-Men.

Investors pushed Marvel stock up almost 12% by the end of the day to $19.73, after the storied comic franchise said it expects second-quarter profits to come in between 25¢ and 30¢ a share on revenues of between $62 million and $67 million.

A big high point for the quarter was the Universal/Marvel-co-produced summer tentpole “Hulk,” which took in $130 million in domestic box office to date and spawned a host of licensed products at retail from which Marvel draws substantial royalties.

The big winner this season, Marvel said, was Electronic Hulk Hands. The mammoth novelty hands are on track to outsell even last year’s must-have, Spider-Man Web-Blasters, which moved more than 3.5 million units.

Marvel also drew strength from Hulk action figures and from a videogame based on the film, which was developed by Vivendi Universal Games and has maintained a top-five sales rank for all the major vidgame platforms.

Company, which plans to release second-quarter results on Aug. 12, has seen its stock price shoot up from less than $4.50 last fall to recent highs above $25, before settling again in the $20 range over the past few months.

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