Tags: Disney | profit | Guardians | ESPN

Disney Profit Rises as 'Guardians' Film Counters ESPN Drop

Thursday, 06 Nov 2014 05:49 PM

Walt Disney Co., the world’s largest entertainment company, reported fourth-quarter earnings that narrowly beat analysts’ estimates as soaring film earnings countered rising costs at ESPN.

Profit excluding some items rose to 89 cents a share, the Burbank, California-based company said Thursday in a statement, beating the 88-cent average of 27 estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Sales grew 7.1 percent to $12.4 billion in the period ended Sept. 27, meeting projections.

The quarter was highlighted by the studio’s August release “Guardians of the Galaxy,” based on a largely unknown set of Marvel superheroes. The picture became the top-grossing movie in the U.S. this year, with $329.4 million in ticket sales. That contrasted with a decline in profit at ESPN, where programming costs increased for professional baseball and football, college sports and soccer.

“In the more recent extensions where the prices have gone up, we have added significantly to the product we are licensing, whether it is our right to go digital, to put more hours of programming on, to cover more games,” Bob Iger, Disney’s chairman and chief executive officer, said on Bloomberg TV.

The company last month renewed a deal to carry National Basketball Association games through 2025 at almost triple the old price.

TV networks, Disney’s largest division, posted slightly lower profit of $1.437 billion. Revenue grew 5.4 percent to $5.22 billion.

Disney fell 1.8 percent to $90.35 in extended trading after the results were announced. The shares rose 1.1 percent to a record $92 at the close in New York and are up 20 percent this year.

Theme Parks

Income at the company’s theme parks grew 20 percent to $687 million, due to higher attendance and guest spending at the company’s U.S. resorts.

Disney’s film studio more than doubled profit to $254 million, buoyed by “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which features a machine-gun toting raccoon. The year-earlier slate included “The Lone Ranger,” which lost as much as $190 million.

Disney also said it completed principal photography and had an official title for its first “Star Wars” movie since the $4 billion acquisition of Lucasfilm Ltd. two years ago. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” features many players from the original 1977 picture, as well as a cast of younger actors. It’s scheduled to be released in December 2015.

Disney’s consumer products unit, boosted by licensed sales of “Frozen” and Marvel-themed merchandise, increased operating profit 9.2 percent $379 million. Disney Interactive, which released the latest video game Disney Infinity 2.0 on Sept. 23, posted a 13 percent rise in profit to $18 million.

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Walt Disney Co., the world's largest entertainment company, reported fourth-quarter earnings that narrowly beat analysts' estimates as soaring film earnings countered rising costs at ESPN.
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2014-49-06
Thursday, 06 Nov 2014 05:49 PM
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