DreamWorks Animation shares are down 13% in early trading this morning after last night’s disappointing Q4 report that included a $13.5M writedown for Turbo, a film that CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg previously said would be profitable. The weak performance added to analyst concerns that DreamWorks Animation’s Mr. Peabody & Sherman may also fall short of investor expectations after March 7 when it’s released in the U.S. Here’s the early line following last night’s report and conference call:
- Sterne Agee’s Vasily Karasyov (“Underperform” rating on DWA with a price target of $17 a share): Peabody & Sherman‘s opening numbers in the UK and France “look soft while the production cost is $18M higher than that for Turbo, increasing the probability of another write-down,” he says. The film based on the classic TV animated characters will generate $160M at domestic box offices and $280M abroad, he projects, but after losses for Turbo and Rise Of The Guardians “the risk is squarely to the downside.”
- Janney Capital Markets’ Tony Wible (Buy, fair value estimate $39): He projects $125M at U.S. box offices for P&S after a $25M opening weekend. Even so, he sees a possibility of an encouraging surprise “from weather and a lack of animated films” so far this year. Seeing DWA “as a play around 2015/16” he “would use any near term volatility to add to positions.”
- Cowen and Co’s Doug Creutz (Market Perform, $35): The title of his AM report says it all: “Another Year Of Hoping For Good Film Performance? No Thanks.” He predicts around a $35M opening weekend for P&S. That would “likely put the film on a Guardians/Turbo type trajectory.” Although “early reviews have been fairly strong,” he warns that the prospects remain “murky” since “demand for animated fare may be a bit sated right now with the recent outsized performances of Frozen and Lego Movie.”
- B. Riley’s Eric Wold (Neutral, $32): Turbo’s results make him “increasingly cautious on the ultimate performance for the next two original concept films” for 2014 with P&S and the November release Home. He didn’t reduce his box office estimates for P&S but reduced his “downstream and ancillary revenue projections.”
- Stifel’s Benjamin Mogil (Hold, no target price): His projection that P&S will generate $150M domestically and $450M abroad is “likely too optimistic given the early tracking commentary” and will be revised later this week. The downturn for Turbo is “another indication of how increasingly fluid animation production has become.”
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