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DreamWorks Animation Earnings Beat Q1 Projections Narrowly

DreamWorks Animation, reeling from a restructuring and a string of underperforming films, reported earnings that were slightly better than projected, after taking out one-time restructuring costs. The company announced a net loss of 64 cents per-share on Thursday, but after taking out January restructuring costs, that improved to a minus 37 cents a share. Analysts had projected a 45 cents per share negative mark going into the announcement.

The toon maker’s revenues of $166.5 million were just ahead of projections, but the costs attributable to layoffs and the remaking of the Burbank-based company dragged earnings lower. The company reported a net loss of $54.8 million for the quarter that ended March 31.

Chief executive and founder Jeffrey Katzenberg, despite still being in rebuilding mode, said he found hope for the future in the company’s lone 2015 film release, “Home.” The animated feature has logged more than $300 million in worldwide box office since its opening a month ago.

The company reported production costs of about $135 million and P&A expenses of roughly the same, meaning that distributor Fox is being paid off and DreamWorks can expect to log more revenue from the film in the second quarter of 2015.

“While 2015 is a transitional year for us, the worldwide box office performance of ‘Home’ serves as early evidence that the changes we’re making in the core feature animation business are working,” Katzenberg said.

He also cited the company’s “All Hail King Julien,” winner of the Emmy for outstanding children’s animated program, as another bright spot, saying the win showed the company possesses “extraordinary talent” that is still producing high-quality product.

DreamWorks had struggled in recent years as a series of releases – including “Penguins of Madagascar,” “Turbo” and “Rise of the Guardians” – disappointed at the box office, leading to writedowns for the studio.

Katzenberg had promised to retool the company and to return his personal focus to filmmaking, rather than to the studio’s television and merchandising operations.

As part of the makeover, Katzenberg named producers Bonnie Arnold and Mireille Soria as co-chiefs of the feature animation unit, replacing creative boss Bill Damaschke, who left the company in January after 20 years, the last four as chief creative director.

The company also reduced its slate from three to two films a year, with “Home” the lone offering it will put forward in 2015. The film was released March 27, at the end of the first quarter.

Katzenberg had previously expressed high hopes for Arnold and Soria. Arnold was the top producer on the “How to Train Your Dragon” films. The second installment in that series offered some home for DreamWorks last year, making more than $618 million worldwide.

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