Updated from Nov. 11
Pixar Animation Studios
has beaten revenue and earnings estimates.
The producer of
also said Thursday that it was entertaining the idea of shifting its schedule back six months, so that its movies -- released at the pace of once a year -- would debut during summer vacation rather than during the end-of-year holiday season.
The company, which has one more movie to release under its current agreement with
, said it expected to reach a distribution agreement with some studio some time next year. Pixar is not currently engaged in conversations with Disney on the subject, said Pixar CEO Steve Jobs.
Shares in Pixar, which ascended to their current levels in August, rose $2.68 to $79.94 Thursday. The stock rose another $5.16 to $85.10 in the premarket Friday.
For the third quarter ended Oct. 2, Pixar reported earnings of $22.4 million, or 38 cents per share, up from $13.2 million, or 23 cents per share, in the third quarter of 2003. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call had been expecting EPS of 24 cents.
Revenue grew from the year-ago $30.2 million to $44.5 million in the latest quarter, besting analysts' expectations of $32 million.
Pixar forecast full-year 2004 EPS of $2.10 to $2.20, ahead of the current expectation of $1.95.
Third quarter earnings came in ahead of the company's 20-cent per share guidance, Chief Financial Officer Simon Bax said, thanks to factors such as better-than-anticipated consumer products licensing, particularly related to
Toy Story 2
, and a reduction in expenses related to Disney's marketing of Pixar home video titles.
On a conference call with analysts, Jobs made it clear he was in no hurry to return any of the company's $833 million in cash on hand to investors, in the form of either dividends or stock buybacks. "I don't think we have excess cash," Jobs told one analyst.
In discussing the possibility that the company would aim for summer releases rather than holiday ones, Jobs spent some time on the call comparing the performance of
, which was a summer release, with that of
, which was released in the holiday season. Most of
improved theatrical performance, said Jobs, could be attributed to the greater midweek attendance enabled by releasing the movie at a time when many children didn't have to be in school.
Jobs wouldn't say if
, the scheduled holiday 2005 movie that's the last release in the Disney deal, was under consideration for being delayed six months.