COMPANY TOWN

Disney beats analysts' estimates with 10% increase in profit in second quarter

Walt Disney Co. reported a 10% increase in net income for its fiscal second quarter

Walt Disney Co. reported Tuesday that its domestic theme parks and its consumer products business drove the company to a 10% increase in net income for its fiscal second quarter.

The Burbank-based company posted net income of $2.108 billion for the quarter that ended March 28, up from $1.917 billion a year earlier. Revenue rose 7% to $12.461 billion.

Disney, the world's largest entertainment and media company, delivered earnings of $1.23 a share, easily beating analyst expectations of $1.11, according to investment research firm Zacks.

Chairman and Chief Executive Robert Iger said in a statement that the company's performance during the quarter "demonstrates the incredible ability of our strong brands and quality content to drive results."

Although the company's film studio released a hit during the quarter -- a remake of "Cinderella" that has grossed $495 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo -- the unit had a weaker quarter than a year ago.

The studio's operating income was down 10% to $427 million. It reported revenue of $1.685 million, off 6% from a year earlier.

Disney partly attributed the decline to the strength of "Frozen," the $1 billion-plus blockbuster that was still in theaters during Disney's fiscal second quarter of 2014.

Disney Chief Financial Officer Jay Rasulo said on a conference call with analysts that the second quarter “was one of the best quarters in the studio’s history” but that the company had to contend with “very difficult [comparisons] due to the impact of ‘Frozen’ in the prior year.”

Disney's parks and resorts unit posted operating income of $566 million, a gain of 24% from a year earlier. Revenue increased by 6% to $3.76 billion. The company said the strong performance was partly because of increased guest spending at its domestic properties.

The company's consumer products division posted operating income of $362 million, compared with $274 million a year earlier. Revenue was up 10% to $971 billion. Disney partly attributed the improvement to an increase in the licensing of "Frozen" merchandise.

The company's largest unit, its media networks division, posted operating income of $2.101 billion -- down 2% from a year earlier. Revenue rose 13% to $5.81 billion.

Within the division, the cable group's operating income was down 9% to $1.799 billion. Disney partly attributed the decline to increased programming and production costs at sports network ESPN.

Disney said that this was due to “higher rights costs for college football programming and the addition of an NFL wild card playoff game and the SEC Network.” That channel, which airs 21 sports played by the Southeastern Conference -- a leading collegiate athletics conference -- launched in August 2014.

The media networks division’s broadcasting group posted operating income of $302 million, up 90% from a year ago. Disney attributed the gains to higher program sales and advertising revenues.

Disney's interactive division reported operating income of $26 million, up 86% from a year earlier. Revenue was down 12% to $235 million. Disney attributed the division's higher operating income to the success of the mobile game "Tsum Tsum.”

Tom Staggs, who was named Disney's chief operating officer earlier this year, joined Iger and Rasulo on the conference call with analysts. It was his first since serving as CFO in the late 1990s and 2000s. On the call, Staggs trumpeted the success of “Frozen,” noting that the franchise’s merchandise sales are now 10 times higher than what they were a year ago.

On Monday, shares of Disney rose 51 cents, or 0.46%, to close at $111.03.

Follow @DanielNMiller for film business news

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATES

6:56 a.m.: This article has been updated with comments from Disney officials.

6:09 a.m.: This article has been updated with figures for Disney's media networks and interactive divisions.

This article was originally published at 5:55 a.m.

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