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Walt Disney Co. earnings surge 27% on strength of film studio

MoviesBusinessEarningsAmusement and Theme ParksFrozen (movie)ESPNThe Walt Disney Co.
Strong performance by film studio leads to 27% increase in Walt Disney Co.'s net income

Walt Disney Co. reported a 27% increase in net income for its fiscal second quarter, lifted by the strong performance of its film studio.

The Burbank company posted net income of $1.917 billion for the quarter that ended March 29, up from $1.513 billion a year earlier. Revenue rose 10% to $11.649 billion.

Disney, the world's largest entertainment and media company, posted earnings of $1.08 a share, up from 83 cents a year earlier.

Excluding charges for foreign exchange losses and restructuring, Disney's adjusted earnings per share was $1.11. Analysts had predicted earnings of 97 cents a share, according to investment research firm Zacks. 

Disney's media networks, parks and resorts, studio, consumer products and interactive divisions each experienced double-digit operating income growth on a year-over-year basis.

Disney shares, which fell 19 cents to $81.03 in regular trading Tuesday, were up slightly in after-hours trading.

“Our continued strong performance reflects the strength of our brands, the quality of our content, and our unique ability to leverage creative success across the entire company to drive value," Disney Chairman and Chief Executive Robert Iger said in a statement.

Disney's movie studio posted operating income of $475 million in its second quarter, up from $118 million a year earlier. Revenue was up 35% to $1.8 billion. Disney attributed the improvement in part to the home entertainment performance of blockbusters "Frozen" and "Thor: The Dark World." 

The company is still reaping the benefits of Walt Disney Animation Studios' "Frozen," which was released theatrically Nov. 22 and has grossed $1.175 billion worldwide. Disney said the film's overseas theatrical performance was also a contributor to the studio's strong quarter.

The studio's most recent hit, "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," was released April 4, after the second quarter ended. The film, which stars Chris Evans in the titular role, has grossed $682 million worldwide.

Disney's media networks group, which includes ABC and ESPN, posted operating income of $2.133 billion, up 15%. Overall, revenue rose 4% to $5.134 billion for the media networks. The company attributed the improvement partly to growth at ESPN, which experienced increased affiliate revenues and decreased production and programming costs.

Disney's interactive division reported operating income of $14 million, compared with a loss of $54 million a year earlier. Revenue was up 38% to $268 million. Disney attributed the division's success to its hit action-adventure video game "Disney Infinity," which has sold more than 3 million copies since launching last summer.

"Disney Infinity," which was released after a lengthy development process that cost Disney about $100 million, incorporates physical toys into the game play. It is sold in a $75 bundle that includes the game, three figurines and the base that connects the physical toys to the on-screen action. The game includes popular characters from the company's films, including Buzz Lightyear and Woody from Pixar's "Toy Story" franchise.

But The Times reported in March that the interactive division would cut roughly 700 jobs worldwide. The division lost more than $200 million a year from 2008 to 2012, and parted ways with co-President John Pleasants in November.

Disney's parks and resorts posted operating income of $457 million, a gain of 19% from a year earlier. Disney said the strong performance was partly because of an increase in guest spending at Walt Disney World Resort and higher attendance at Disneyland Resort. 

The company's consumer products division posted operating income of $274 million, compared with $200 million a year earlier. Revenue was up 16% to $885 million.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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MoviesBusinessEarningsAmusement and Theme ParksFrozen (movie)ESPNThe Walt Disney Co.
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