The numbers do the roaring for MGM. In the first three months of this year it generated net income of $57.4M, +150.7% vs the period last year, on revenues of $481.7M, +168.4%. It shouldn’t be a surprise. With the late 2012 release of the James Bond film Skyfall, and a 50% stake in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the studio had $139.5M in worldwide box office revenues, up from $0.5M last year. The company says that it has to wait for costs to be covered before it can recognize revenue from two films it co-financed: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters and G.I. Joe: Retaliation. Home entertainment also was way up — to $201.7M from $36.2M — with the home video release of Skyfall and piggy-back promotions for its James Bond library. But worldwide television licensing was -3.2% to $109.3M. MGM’s 19.1% stake in EPIX delivered $5M to net earnings, +16.3%. The results “exceeded our expectations” and “position us well to deliver on our financial goals” for 2013, CEO Gary Barber told investors. He added that History has ordered a second season of Vikings, which was the year’s No. 1 cable series. The 10 episodes will air beginning in 2014. MGM is licensing the series to more than 75 countries and has two versions tailored for different markets. I’m told that MGM’s privately traded shares closed today at $54.37 which is significant: It means that debt holders are at par, and able to recoup the entire investment they made in late 2010 when the studio emerged from bankruptcy and the stock traded in the low $30 range. Asked by an investor whether MGM might go public, Barber says that that the company is studying all options “which includes a possible IPO.”
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