Walt Disney beats expectations even as it faces a Frozen comedown

May 5, 2015, 1:32 PM UTC
Measles California
Mickey Mouse shaped balloons are for sale at Disneyland, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, in Anaheim, Calif. A major measles outbreak traced to Disneyland has brought criticism down on the small but vocal movement among parents to opt out of vaccinations for their children. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Photograph by Jae C. Hong — AP

Walt Disney Co.(DIS) , the world’s largest entertainment company, reported second-quarter profit that exceeded analysts’ expectations, driven by increased spending by theme park visitors.

Earnings for the quarter totaled $1.23 a share, the company revealed Tuesday. That’s up 14% year-over-year, beating the consensus estimate of $1.09 a share, according to Bloomberg data. Revenues rose to $12.46 billion from $11.65 billion a year earlier.

Disney posted the expectation-beating results in a period that lacked a major blockbuster like “Frozen,” signaling the underlying strength of its theme park and merchandising segments. Ticket price increases at its Orlando, Fla. and Anaheim, Calif. parks helped boost profits and offset lower sales at its film unit, which was selling “Frozen” DVDs at a rapid clip a year ago.

The performance “demonstrates the incredible ability of our strong brands and quality content to drive results,” Bob Iger, Disney’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

In the most recent quarter, operating income at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts increased 24% to $566 million. Meanwhile, Walt Disney Studios faced a 9% decline in operating income at its cable networks and a 10% decline in movie profit, a product of both the “Frozen” comedown and higher programming costs at ESPN.

Higher ad sales and affiliate fees within its media networks also helped. The broadcasting division profits were up 90%, thanks in large part to its recent sale of “Daredevil” to Netflix.
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The Burbank, Calif.-based company moved its quarterly earnings release to Tuesday morning in order to let its executives attend the funeral of SurveyMonkey CEO David Goldberg, who is the wife of Disney board member and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. Goldberg, who was 47 years old, died suddenly over the weekend while on vacation with his family.

READ MORE: Disney CEO Bob Iger’s empire of tech.

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