'Frozen' Helps Disney Beat Expectations With Second-Quarter Earnings

1:19 PM PST 05/06/2014 by Paul Bond

UPDATED: Shares were advancing as much as 3 percent in after-hours trading as the conglomerate reported 35 percent revenue growth at its film studio.

The Walt Disney Co. said Tuesday it earned $1.11 per share, excluding some items, in the second quarter on $11.65 billion in revenue, beating expectations on both the top and bottom lines.

Disney was expected to earn 96 cents per share on revenue of $11.24 billion.

A year ago in the same quarter, Disney earned $1.04 per share -- excluding some items -- on revenue of $10.55 billion.

Shares of Disney closed fractionally lower, at $81.03, on Tuesday but initially jumped 3 percent in after-hours trading.

The company's studio entertainment unit recorded 35 percent revenue growth to $1.8 billion, helped by the international theatrical results of Frozen and Thor: The Dark World. Television and subscription VOD titles like Monsters University and Iron Man 3 also made big contributions.

PHOTOS: The Making of Disney's Animated Oscar Contender 'Frozen'

Frozen also helped Disney's studio entertainment division report operating income that more than quadrupled, to $475 million.

During a conference call with analysts, Disney CEO Bob Iger said Frozen is the best-selling Blu-ray + Digital in history, and he confirmed plans for a Broadway-style stage play of the title.

The fastest-growing unit was interactive, which posted $268 million in revenue, up 38 percent compared to the same quarter a year ago, the video game Disney Infinity being the primary driver.

The biggest unit, media networks, posted 4 percent revenue growth to $5.13 billion after cable grew 5 percent but broadcast remained flat. In cable, ESPN, the domestic Disney Channels and A+E Television Networks were standouts.

Parks and resorts grew 8 percent to $3.56 billion and consumer products was up 16 percent to $885 million, in part due to strong sales of merchandise based on brands associated with the Disney Channel as well as Mickey and Minnie Mouse and Planes.

Iger told analysts Tuesday that even he and other top executives had been amazed by the "pent-up demand" for more Star Wars movies, the evidence being the attention paid in the media to every new detail about the making of Star Wars: Episode VII, due out Dec. 18, 2015. 

He also reiterated that film is a growth industry, especially due to international markets. He predicted China will be the No. 1 film market by 2020.

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