HOLLYWOOD — Moviegoers aren’t the only ones buzzing about the positive reviews “The Incredibles” has been garnering. Investors rushed out Friday and loaded up on shares of the movie’s producer, Pixar, pushing the animation studio’s stock price to the highest level in its history.
Shares rose $3.59 per share to close Friday at $84.45. Earlier in the day, the price broke $85 briefly as 2.6 million shares — about five times the normal daily trading volume — changed hands.
In an unusual move that helped generate Wall Street buzz, Pixar screened the film for stock analysts early last week and made note of its superwide opening on nearly 4,000 screens.
“I think people are responding to the overwhelmingly positive reviews,” said Richard Greenfield of Fulcrum Global Partners. He cautioned, however, that it’s hard to judge how well the stock will do this week and he has a “neutral” rating on the company. “I don’t want to bet on this stock,” he added.
Greenfield said that whether Pixar can sustain its price gains will depend on how well it opens compared with the previous Pixar film, “Finding Nemo,” which hauled in $71 million in its first weekend in June 2003, and what kind of competition it gets from “Polar Express,” which opens Wednesday.
“The entire success of this company is based on one film per year,” said Greenfield.
Based on Friday’s closing price, Pixar’s price-to-earnings ratio was 30.7, higher than that of most industrial stocks but far lower than the 158 ratio of competitor DreamWorks Animation, making Pixar’s price downright cheap by comparison.