The studio’s November 21 release is poised to become “a much-needed hit,” Janney Capital Markets’ Anthony Wible says this morning as he raised his recommendation on DreamWorks Animation to “neutral” from “sell.” Tracking data for the fantasy adventure film “has spiked on the release of new trailers and reached a higher than expected level of awareness” — which is impressive since the studio hasn’t begun heavily marketing Guardians. Wible now estimates that it will generate $225M in domestic theaters (including $55M in its opening weekend), and $338M abroad. He warns that the overseas results may suffer because the story line — about a boy’s encounters with Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and the Sandman — involves “characters that have their basis in Christianity and/or Anglo-Saxon culture that may not resonate as well with certain foreign audiences.” Still, he raised his fair value estimate for the stock to $19 from $14.50 saying that “the film’s potential will help push [DreamWorks] to higher levels in advance of the open (albeit we see real risk that the stock fades after the open).”
Wible still has mixed feelings about the company’s prospects. He’s pleased to see it increase its output to three films a year from two, likes new distribution terms with Netflix and Fox, and is hopeful about a pick-up in film-related video games. But he lowered his cash flow estimates largely due to his concern about declining merchandise sales. DreamWorks shares closed yesterday at $17.71 and are down 12.8% over the last 12 months.