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Disney profit up 33% on film studio's 'Thor' and 'Frozen' successes

MoviesMedia IndustryEntertainmentEconomy, Business and FinanceRecreational and Sporting Goods IndustryFrozen (movie)Amusement and Theme Parks

Walt Disney Co. reported a 33% increase in net income for its fiscal first quarter, lifted in part by the performance of its hit movies "Frozen" and "Thor: The Dark World."

The Burbank company posted net income of $1.84 billion for the quarter that ended Dec. 28, up from $1.38 billion a year earlier. Revenue rose 9% to $12.31 billion.

Disney, the world's largest entertainment and media company, posted earnings of $1.03 a share, up from 77 cents a year earlier.

That exceeded the expectations of analysts, who had predicted earnings of 91 cents a share, according to investment research firm Zacks.

“These results reflect the strength of our unprecedented portfolio of brands, a constant focus on creativity and innovation, and the continued success of our long-term strategy,” Walt Disney Chairman and Chief Executive Robert Iger said in a statement.

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Disney shares were up 71 cents, or 1%, to $71.76 in regular trading Wednesday. They rose to $72.85 in after-hours trading. The shares are down 6% on the year.

Disney's movie studio posted operating income of $409 million in its first quarter, up 75% from a year earlier. Revenue was up 23% to $1.9 billion. Disney attributed the improvement to blockbusters "Thor: The Dark World" and "Frozen."

"Thor: The Dark World," which starred Chris Hemsworth in the titular role, has grossed $633 million worldwide since being released Nov. 8, according to Box Office Mojo.

The animated film "Frozen," released Nov. 22, has taken in $865 million worldwide.

Disney's media networks group, which includes ABC and ESPN, posted operating income of $1.5 billion, up 20%. Overall, revenue rose 4% to $5.3 billion for the media networks. The company attributed the improvement partly to growth at ESPN, which experienced increased affiliate and advertising revenues.

Disney's interactive division reported operating income of $55 million, compared with $9 million a year earlier. Revenue was up 38% to $403 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 in August. 

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"Disney Infinity," which was released after a years-long 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 onscreen action.

The Times reported Monday that Disney Interactive, which lost $87 million for its fiscal 2013, is expected to begin a round of layoffs. 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 $671 million -- a gain of 16% from a year earlier. Disney said the strong performance was partly because of an increase in guest spending at its Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland Resort properties.

The company's consumer products division posted operating income of $430 million, compared with $346 million a year earlier. Revenue was up 11% to $1.13 billion. 

ALSO:

Disney's profit and revenue soar on "Oz," parks, ESPN

Disney's profit up slightly on networks, theme parks performance

Disney profit up 12% on consumer products, studio, theme park gains 

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daniel.miller@latimes.com

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