* Third-quarter earnings $0.29/shr vs est $0.11
* Revenue up 16 pct at $186.3 mln vs est $139.4 mln
* CEO Katzenberg expects strong Thanksgiving release for “Rise of the Guardians”
* Madagascar 3 contributed about 25 pct to total third-quarter revenue
By Chandni Doulatramani
Nov 1 (Reuters) - DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc’s third-quarter results beat analysts’ estimates, riding t he international box office success of “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted”.
The company said Madagascar 3, which released in June, raked in nearly $720 million worldwide, of which 70 percent was from international markets.
With the release of the studio’s next film, “Rise of the Guardians”, coming up later this month, investors are shifting their focus to the film and its potential performance.
The animation film, which features the voices of Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman and Jude Law among others, will release on Nov. 21 in the United States. It is based on William Joyce’s “The Guardians of Childhood” book series, which tracks the adventures of a carefree boy.
DreamWorks expects fourth-quarter results to be driven by the film as well as the continued international success of Madagascar 3 and its home video release.
Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, who co-founded DreamWorks after he resigned from Walt Disney Co in 1994, said he expects Guardians to have a strong release in the Thanksgiving weekend, but cautioned it might slow down for a couple of weeks before picking up during Christmas.
Piper Jaffray analyst James Marsh said he expects the film to gross about $150 million, much less than Madagascar 3’s $216 million at the U.S. box office so far.
“Rise of the Guardians” is hard to gauge compared with Madagascar 3, whose performance can be assessed by looking at its prequel, Marsh said.
He added that the competitive environment is favorable for DreamWorks in the fourth quarter, as there are fewer films being released, compared with last year.
The animation studio behind the hugely successful “Shrek” and “Kung Fu Panda” franchises said net income rose to $24.4 million, or 29 cents per share, in the third quarter, from $19.7 million, or 23 cents per share, a year earlier.
The company, which competes with Walt Disney Co’s Pixar among others, said revenue rose 16 percent to $186.3 million, a quarter of which came from Madagascar 3. [I D :nPnLA04544]
Analysts, on average, had expected earnings of 11 cents per share on revenue of $139.4 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Walt Disney said on Tuesday it had agreed to buy filmmaker George Lucas’s Lucasfilm Ltd and its “Star Wars” franchise for $4.05 billion, a blockbuster deal that includes the surprise promise of a new film in the series in 2015.
DreamWorks shares, which have risen about 13 percent in the last six months, were up marginally at $20.90 in after-market trading on Thursday. They closed at $20.61 on the Nasdaq.