That could result in a nice pop for DreamWorks Animation shares — which closed at $18.01 on Friday — all things being equal. The nearly $60M domestic box office sales for Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted were well ahead of the $45M predicted by Barclays Equity Research analyst Anthony DiClemente. This morning he raised his 2012 earnings per share estimate for DreamWorks to 95 cents a share from 93 cents — but left his “underweight” recommendation and $15 target price unchanged. “While the weekend take fell just short of Madagascar 2’s $63M haul in 2008, it was still a very impressive result,” he says. He now forecasts that Mad 3 will generate $175M at domestic box offices, up from his previous $165M, with international box office of $420M, up from $413M. Janney Capital Markets’ Tony Wible also is impressed by DreamWorks “first film in years to beat (U.S. box office) opening expectations” — which he says distributor Paramount “had been talking down” to $45M. He, too, raised his EPS estimates a penny to 77 cents for the current quarter and $1.17 for the year. Wible’s concerned that Mad 3‘s “run may be short-lived.” Pixar’s Brave comes out in 11 days. DreamWorks’ effort to stagger its film’s openings abroad, to work around the Summer Olympics in London, “may increase the risk to estimates.” Some countries won’t open until August, and Germany, Austria and the UK will have to wait until October. Also, the strong dollar could hurt; about 60% of the film’s box office revenues are expected to come from overseas. Wible, too, is sticking with his “sell” recommendation although he raised his target price to $15 from $13.
Susquehanna Financial Group’s Vasily Karasyov saw no need to change his financial forecast for DreamWorks or his “neutral” rating. He had forecast a $57M weekend for Mad 3. He now says the film will hit $210M at domestic box offices, a 5% increase from his previous prediction, with international at $400M. Lazard Capital Markets’ Barton Crockett, who gives DreamWorks a “neutral” rating, raised his domestic forecast for Mad 3 by $9M to $185M — and adds that, although it’s too early to be sure, the strong results from seven overseas markets portend sales of more than $600M at international box offices, 25% more than he expected.