Disney’s profit and revenue soar on “Oz,” parks, ESPN


Walt Disney Co. reported a massive jump in net income for its fiscal second quarter, lifted by the performance of its media networks, movie studio and theme parks.

The Burbank company posted net income of $1.51 billion for the quarter that ended March 30, up 32% from a year earlier. Revenue rose 10% to $10.55 billion.

Disney, the world’s largest entertainment and media company, posted adjusted earnings per share of 79 cents, up from 58 cents a year earlier. The company beat the expectations of analysts who predicted earnings per share of 77 cents.


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“With adjusted earnings per share up 36% over last year, we’re obviously pleased with our second quarter,” Robert A. Iger, chairman and chief executive of Disney, said in a statement. “Our results reflect our successful strategy, the strength of our brands and the value of our high-quality creative content, all of which continue to drive long-term growth and shareholder value.”

Shares of Disney rose $1.01 on Tuesday to $66.07, not far from an all-time high of $66.09 set earlier in the day. The stock rose to $66.27 in after-hours trading.

Disney’s Media Networks Group, which includes ABC and ESPN, posted an operating income of $1.86 billion, up 8%. Revenue rose 6% to $4.96 billion. Although its broadcast division saw operating income fall 40% to $138 million -- due in part to higher prime-time programming costs -- the operating income of the company’s cable networks was up 15% to $1.72 billion. Disney partly attributed the gain in the cable business to increased affiliate revenue for ESPN.

The company’s movie studio had a strong quarter, posting operating income of $118 million. The studio said that it performed well in part due to the release of “Oz The Great and Powerful,” which has grossed $228.9 million domestically and $256.2 million abroad. A year earlier, the film studio posted an operating loss of $84 million -- the result of a $200 million write-down on the sci-fi movie “John Carter.” The film had a global gross of $282.8 million, but was estimated to have a production budget of $250 million.

Disney’s parks and resorts posted operating income of $383 million -- a gain of 73% from a year earlier. Disney said the strong performance was largely due to an increase in business at its domestic properties.

Disney’s interactive division posted an operating loss of $54 million, a slight improvement from the same quarter a year earlier, when it lost $70 million. Revenue was up 8% to $194 million.

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On Monday, Disney announced that it had struck a deal with video game developer Electronic Arts Inc. that will see that company make and publish new “Star Wars” games.

Under the exclusive, multi-year agreement, Electronic Arts will develop titles for “all interactive platforms and the most popular game genres” related to “Star Wars.” Disney retains certain rights to develop games for mobile, social, tablet and online platforms, the companies said.

It wasn’t the only bit of postive pre-earnings news for the company. “Iron Man 3,” from Disney’s Marvel Studios, grossed $174.1 million domestically in its first weekend of release. The film’s opening run trailed only that of Disney and Marvel Studios’ “The Avengers,” which was released last summer and took in $207.4 million over its debut weekend. As of Monday, “Iron Man 3” had already grossed $504.8 million abroad.

The success of the film should buoy the company moving forward, said Disney analyst Harold Vogel, president of Vogel Capital Management, in an interview before the earnings release.

“Earnings should have an all-around positive feel to it, especially given ‘Iron Man 3,’” he said. “I am sure they will play that up and say they have a great quarter coming.”


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