Marvel released its Q4 and full year 2002 results on Monday, beating its own recently increased guidance, and raised its guidance for 2003.  Marvel lost $45 million after its preferred stock dividend, beating the $50 million loss it predicted in its guidance issued only two months ago (see 'Marvel Ending 2002, Starting 2003 Strong').  Excluding one-time charges, primarily the costs associated with early pay-off of debt, Marvel would have made a $12 million net profit.  Among the factors causing Marvel to exceed its recent guidance was the earlier recognition of $4.3 million in revenue from Spider-Man video/DVD sales. 


Licensing continued to lead the way in Marvel's improved performance.  Licensing revenues for the year were up 99% over 2001 figures.  CEO Allen Lipson noted that over $2 billion retail worth of Marvel licensed products were sold in 2002, not including $1.4 billion in Spider-Man movie tickets and video/DVD sales.   


Publishing was up 30% for the year, to $64.5 million.  Q4 sales were up a smaller 9% over Q4 2001.  Among the factors cited for the publishing improvement was growth in Marvel's gook sales, which contributed $15.5 million in sales vs. $5.3 million in 2001. 


Toys were up about 69% for the full year vs. 2001 numbers, primarily due to Spider-Man movie toys. 


Among other interesting tidbits in the release (the full annual report has yet to be released) was the news that Q4 results included $4.4 million in reserves for estimated settlement values for three litigation matters.  One lawsuit in which Marvel is involved is a class action suit brought by retailer Brian Hibbs over Marvel's failure to take returns on late books (see 'Retailer Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Marvel').


Marvel's 2003 guidance predicts better times this year, and is higher than the numbers it issued two months ago.  Marvel's predicting net income of $50-$54 million this year; it was predicting $42-$45 million in profits just a couple of months ago.  And that's despite the acceleration of revenue recognition of $4.3 million from Spider-Man video/DVD sales.  Marvel also listed the movies based on its characters that are planned, including five for 2004:  Punisher, Spider-Man II (see 'Spider-Man Shooting Starts in April'), Iron Fist, Ghost Rider, and Deathlok.  Further out, Marvel listed four 2005 movies (Elektra, Daredevil II, Dr. Strange, and Namor), and five with release dates to be determined (Fantastic 4, Silver Surfer, Iron Man, Blade III, and Prime).