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Southwest Keeps 'Strong Buy' on Marvel

Analyst Arvind Bhatia says The Hulk earned $62.6 million in its opening weekend, vs. $86 million for X-Men, and $115 million for Spiderman. He thinks the weaker-than-expected opening of The Hulk is putting pressure on Marvel even though the company will likely earn the maximum possible amount under the deal (from box offices.)

On a positive side, Bhatia says licensing activity, particularly for The Incredible Hulk, have been quite strong. He thinks toys, video games, and scores of other licensing categories will be bigger contributors to Marvel's earnings this year. He sees 80 cents 2003 earnings per share, and $1.00 for 2004. He's keeping his $25 target.

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