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Walt Disney Co.'s quarterly net income rises 8% to $1.5 billion

Walt Disney Co.'s quarterly net income rises 8% to $1.5 billion
Walt Disney's studio was the star of its fourth quarter show, with operating income surging to $254 million. Above, Disney's corporate headquarters in Burbank. (Reed Saxon / Associated Press)

Walt Disney Co.'s film studio drove the company to an 8% increase in net income for its fiscal fourth quarter.

The Burbank company posted net income of $1.5 billion for the quarter that ended Sept. 27, up from $1.39 billion a year earlier. Revenue rose 7% to $12.39 billion.

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Disney, the world's largest entertainment and media company, delivered earnings of 89 cents a share, just beating analyst expectations of 88 cents, according to investment research firm Zacks.

Disney shares rose $1, or 1.1%, to $92 on Thursday.

The studio was the star of the show, with operating income surging to $254 million from $108 million a year earlier. Revenue rose 18% to $1.78 billion.

Disney released a major hit during the quarter: "Guardians of the Galaxy," which has grossed $766.3 million worldwide since Aug. 1.

And "Frozen," Disney's 2013 animated blockbuster, continues to be a moneymaker, driving the studio's worldwide home entertainment business.

Disney has not released a major disappointment since "The Lone Ranger," which opened July 2013 and was a drag on the studio unit's performance during 2013's fiscal fourth quarter.

The company's media networks division posted operating income of $1.44 billion -- down less than 1% from a year earlier. Revenue rose 5% to $5.22 billion.

Within the division, the cable group's operating income was down 1% in part because of higher programming costs at ESPN. Disney said that the increased costs were "driven by contractual rate increases for Major League Baseball, NFL and college football rights," among other factors.

The broadcasting group's operating income was up 3% -- partly because of affiliate revenue growth.

Disney's parks and resorts unit posted operating income of $687 million, a gain of 20% from a year earlier. Disney 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 $379 million, compared with $347 million a year earlier. Revenue was up 7% to $1.07 billion. Again, "Frozen," was a big contributor to the success. Disney said this month that more than 3 million "Frozen" role-play dresses have been sold by North American retailers.

Disney's interactive division reported operating income of $18 million, up 13% from a year earlier. Revenue was down 9% to $362 million. Disney attributed the division's higher operating income to the success of the mobile game "Tsum Tsum."

Follow @DanielNMiller for film business news

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