Pixar Beats but Guides Lower

First-quarter numbers exceed a previously reduced Wall Street estimate.
Author:
Publish date:

Updated from May 6.

Pixar

(PIXR)

continues to find a lot of money in

Nemo

.

The computer-animation studio headed by

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Report

Chief Steve Jobs beat Wall Street's earnings estimates Thursday -- but only after having brought down those estimates with conservative guidance in February.

Revenue beat expectations, too, thanks to strong home video sales of the undersea adventure

Finding Nemo,

distributed by Pixar's on-the-outs partner

Disney

(DIS) - Get Report

.

But continuing the back-and-forth theme, Pixar warned that second-quarter earnings will be just 30 cents a share, well short of the 48-cent Thomson First Call consensus. Pixar shares slipped $1.25 in early Friday trading to $64.81.

For the first quarter ended March 31, Pixar earned $26.7 million, or 46 cents per share, up from $8.2 million, or 15 cents per share, in the first quarter of 2003.

That 46-cent figure, Pixar noted, also beat the company's early February guidance of 30 cents. It also beat the Thomson First Call consensus estimate of 39 cents.

What Pixar didn't note was that, according to First Call, the consensus estimate had been for earnings of 53 cents in the quarter at the time that Pixar reined analysts in with the 30-cent number.

Revenue for the quarter amounted to $53.8 million, up from $18.7 million one year earlier and ahead of the $48 million consensus number.

Despite the company's impending breakup with

Disney

(DIS) - Get Report

, "The working relationship between the two companies remains really positive and professional," said Jobs, who soon afterward made a crack about Pixar having more cash on hand than Disney.

Jobs said Pixar had had exploratory meetings with future possible distribution partners, but had not yet entered into serious discussions with any of them. The company feels no pressure to enter into a new agreement within weeks or months, he said.

Any agreement, said Jobs, would likely result in Pixar getting double the profits it receives through its work with Disney -- or, as he put it, Pixar earning twice as much money for the same amount of work.

Jobs disavowed a press report indicating he would negotiate with Disney after any departure of CEO Michael Eisner.

He said he wouldn't talk about any possible slate of post-Disney films until perhaps the first half of 2005.

Asked if Pixar would consider augmenting its revenue streams following the Disney breakup, Jobs responded, "We're looking at a chain of gelato stands."