(Adds CEO comments)
By Lisa Richwine
May 6 Media company Walt Disney Co on
Tuesday reported higher profit that beat Wall Street
expectations for the quarter ended in March, boosted by the
continued strength of its blockbuster animated film "Frozen."
The company said it posted adjusted earnings of $1.11 a
share, beating the 96 cent average forecast of analysts surveyed
by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. A year ago, Disney reported adjusted
earnings of 79 cents a share.
Disney shares rose 1.3 percent in after-hours trading, to
$82.05 a share.
Net income for the quarter increased to $1.9 billion from
$1.5 billion a year earlier, lifted by growth at its movie
The animated blockbuster "Frozen," about two royal sisters
in an icy kingdom, continued to propel the studio, which saw its
operating income quadruple to $475 million from $118 million a
year earlier, partially on the strength of "Frozen" sales on
To further cash in on the film's popularity, Disney will
increase the presence of "Frozen" characters at theme parks and
could to use them in its publishing and interactive gaming
businesses, Chief Executive Bob Iger said on a conference call.
"The passion for this film and these characters is so
extraordinary, so well beyond what we've ever imagined, that it
would be hard to believe that it wouldn't sustain itself over a
fairly long period of time," Iger said.
The film had worldwide ticket sales of $1.2 billion,
including $400.3 million during its five-month run in U.S. and
"The real surprise was the studio," Wunderlich Securities
analyst Matthew Harrigan said. He said he had expected expecting
operating income of around $300 million for the unit. "They have
importantly managed to revitalize Disney Animation as a full
peer to Pixar."
All of Disney's other units reported higher profit.
Operating earnings at its TV operations, its largest unit,
increased by 15 percent despite lower ratings at its ABC
The company's sports behemoth ESPN helped boost cable
operating income by 15 percent, largely through higher affiliate
fees from pay TV providers.
Higher average ticket prices helped lift operating income at
Disney's theme park operations, which increased by 19 percent to
$457 million on higher attendance at Disneyland and increased
guest spending at Walt Disney World.
SHANGHAI THEME PARK
Disney last week announced the company and its Chinese
partners would increase their investment in a theme park under
construction in Shanghai by $800 million. Iger on Tuesday said
it may invest more in the park, which is slated to open in 2015.
"It's a pretty compelling circumstance or opportunity for us
and our partners and probably will deserve an infusion of more
capital investment," he said.
The interactive gaming unit reported an operating profit of
$14 million, compared with a $54 million loss a year earlier, on
the strength of sales of the Disney Infinity video game.
(Reporting by Lisa Richwine and Ronald Grover; Editing by