July 29, 2014 / 9:01 PM / in 4 years

UPDATE 2-DreamWorks says SEC investigating "Turbo" write-down

* Q2 revenue almost halved to $122.3 mln vs est $138.5 mln

* Q2 shr loss $0.18/shr vs loss est $0.02/shr

* Shares fall nearly 9 pct (Adds details from conference call, analyst comments, updates shares)

By Lehar Maan

July 29 (Reuters) - DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating the company’s write-down of film inventory on “Turbo”.

The company’s shares fell nearly 9 percent to $20.68 in extended trading after the movie studio also reported second-quarter revenue almost halved.

DreamWorks took an impairment charge of $13.5 million, or 12 cents per share, on “Turbo” in the fourth quarter due to the poor performance of the movie, about a garden snail that races in NASCAR.

The company reported a loss of $15.9 million, or 18 cents per share, in the second quarter, down from a profit of $22.2 million, or 26 cents per share, a year earlier.

It was the company’s second quarterly loss in a row as “How to Train Your Dragon 2” failed to fly as high as the first movie in the series.

After a run of three weak movies, DreamWorks had pinned its hopes on the Dragon sequel, which carries on the story of a Viking boy named “Hiccup” and his dragon “Toothless”.

“We have no problem with the story telling or the quality of the animation effect...We just think the films cost too much in light of what they ultimately do in all windows,” Topeka Capital Markets analyst David Miller said.

“How to Train Your Dragon 2” grossed only $166 million in North American box office sales after seven weeks in cinemas, lagging the $201 million recorded by the first movie at the same point, according to Box Office Mojo, which tracks theater sales.

DreamWorks will release its last movie for the year, “Penguins of Madagascar”, in November. It will release “Home” in March 2015.

Both the films will have production cost of about $135 million exclusive of incentive-based compensation, DreamWorks Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg said on a conference call with analysts.

“Penguins of Madagascar” is a spin off of the “Madagascar” franchise and will feature the four comical penguin characters “Skipper” “Kowalski” “Rico” and “Private” as a spy team. “Home” is a story about an alien race that takes over Earth.

Revenue almost halved to $122.3 million.

Analysts had expected a loss of 2 cents per share on revenue of $138.5 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

DreamWorks declined to give further information on the SEC investigation into the “Turbo” writedown during the post-earnings conference call. (Editing by Rodney Joyce and Sriraj Kalluvila)

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