Disney Sees Huge Jump in Shares Thanks to Hit Movie “Frozen”

Frozen's Anna, voiced by Kristen Bell, Olaf, voiced by Josh Gad, and Kristoff, voiced by Jonathan Groff. (AP Photo/Disney)
Frozen’s Anna, voiced by Kristen Bell, Olaf, voiced by Josh Gad, and Kristoff, voiced by Jonathan Groff. (AP Photo/Disney)

Media company Walt Disney Co on Tuesday reported higher profit that beat Wall Street expectations for the quarter that 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 studio.

The animated blockbuster “Frozen” 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’s DVD sales.

The film, which features the voices of Kristin Bell and Jonathan Groff, had worldwide ticket sales of $1.2 billion, including $400.3 million during its five-month run in U.S. and Canadian theaters.

“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.”

Operating earnings at Disney’s TV operations, its largest unit, increased by 15 percent despite lower ratings at its ABC broadcast network.

The company’s sports behemoth ESPN helped boost the company’s cable operating income by 15 percent, largely the result of higher affiliate fees from cable and satellite operators.

Higher average ticket prices helped lift operating income at Disney’s far-flung theme park operations, which increased by 19 percent to $457 million on the strength of higher attendance at Disneyland and increased guest spending at Walt Disney World.

Lower attendance at Disneyland Paris kept the theme park’s foreign operations comparable to last year’s performance, the company said.

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine and Ronald Grover; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

SOURCE: Lisa Richwine

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