Marvel’s publishing division finished 2008 with sales of $125.4 million, virtually flat with 2007 when revenue was $125.7 million. Operating profit slipped to $47.3 million from $53.5 million, which the company said was primarily due to ongoing investments in digital initiatives. Unlike most traditional book publishers, Marvel did well at the end of the year with fourth quarter sales up 9%, to $33.1 million and earnings rising to $13 million from $12.3 million, which the company said benefitted from higher profile releases.

For the entire company, revenue jumped to $676.2 million from $485.8 million and net income soared to $205.5 million from $139.8 million. The huge gains were due to the release of the first feature films from Marvel Studios The Incredible Hulk and one of the year’s biggest hits IronMan.

Marvel is forecasting a decline in total revenue in 2009 as it struggles with comparisons with Iron Man’s 2008 success. Sales in the publishing segment are expected to be flat at best with sales ranging from $115 million to $125 million with earnings continuing to be negatively impacted by digital media spending.