Comic Consumerism: 4 Companies With Interests in Superheroes

If you're like us - always on the look out for opportunities to indulge our inner nerd - this examination of the market through Clark Kent's glasses might interest you. We took a look at this past weekend's Comic-Con and its announcements about what's next for America's favorite super-heroes.

For those of you that don't already know, Comic-Con has evolved considerably since it was first conceived as the Golden State Comic Book Convention in San Diego in 1970. What was once a motley collection of industry devotees who gathered to meet their favorite writers and artists has since grown into one of the biggest trade shows in the entertainment industry. While the major takeaways from the event usually pertain to the future of comic book giants, more recent years have fashioned the conference into something that's become a launchpad for Blockbusters of all shapes and sizes.

2013's convention offered previews and sneak-peaks of offerings as varied as a return of the action-flick to Ancient Sparta, plans to wind-down the wildly popular sit-com "How I Met Your Mother," and a multitude of new Joss Whedon projects. However none of the new developments or forthcoming sequels made as much of as splash as DC's announcement that Batman and Superman will be joining forces onscreen. Dark Night master-mind Christopher Nolan is set to Executive Produce and anyone who has ever owned an action figure is giddy with anticipation.

One new development for 2013 has been a shift in what were once unconditionally enthusiastic audience receptions. While Comic-Con audiences have traditionally been rather forgiving, some news outlets are reporting that repeated exposure to their favorite characters in live action has jaded some of the once-adoring into skepticism, and some of this year's offerings failed to generate the usual amount of buzz.  Whether the naysayers were put-off by recent controversies (such as with "Ender's Game" and its author Orson Scott Card's anti-gay remarks); or they are simply growing bored with the source material is hard to say.  

A major question in the air will be whether audiences continue their fervor for superhero films and the merchandising opportunities that come with them.  If enthusiasm for the genre begins to wane, certain companies could be in trouble.  Disney (DIS), for instance, is already "aggressively" expanding some of their science-fiction holdings by planning a slew of new Star Wars films and an $80 million licensing agreement with Hasbro (HAS)-could be in trouble.  The shift could also have implications for Time Warner (TWX), which owns DC; and Viacom (VIA)-which owns a multitude of other content channels that target millennials and men, such as Comedy Central and Spike.

Will comic books continue to be a major source of revenue for media companies? Use the charts below to begin your own analysis.

The List

(Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research, all other data sourced from Finviz.)

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1.Walt Disney Co. (DIS, Earnings, Analysts, Financials):Operates as an entertainment company worldwide. Market cap at $117.55B, most recent closing price at $65.16.



2.Hasbro Inc. (HAS, Earnings, Analysts, Financials):Engages in the design, manufacture, and marketing of games and toys. Market cap at $5.87B, most recent closing price at $45.38.



3.Time Warner Inc. (TWX, Earnings, Analysts, Financials):Operates as a media and entertainment company in the United States and internationally. Market cap at $57.62B, most recent closing price at $61.77.


4.Viacom, Inc. (VIA, Earnings, Analysts, Financials):Operates as an entertainment content company in the United States and internationally. Market cap at $33.2B, most recent closing price at $74.78.



(List compiled by James Dennin.)


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