UPDATE: Will CEO Bob Iger ever stop talking about Frozen? Not for a long time, it seems. He told analysts in a conference call that the hit animated film recently accounted for nine of the 10 top selling items at Disney stores. The company is “taking a number of steps to increase the characters’ presence in the parks” and will also appear in “other forms of story telling” including publishing and interactive. (Disney already announced its plan to take Frozen to Broadway.) The success story supported his theme that Disney’s so-called branded movies provide it with a rich film pipeline. That includes Star Wars. “It’s amazing what pent up demand there is.” Disney will feed it with at least three spin off films.
PREVIOUS, 1:19 PM: Shares are up slightly in post-market trading after the entertainment giant topped Wall Street earnings expectations, especially at the movie studio and theme parks. Disney reported net income of $1.92B for the first three months of the year, +26.7% vs the period last year, on revenues of $11.65B, +10.4%. Analysts expected the top line to come in at $11.24B. Earnings at $1.11 a share also topped forecasts for 96 cents. Cable networks revenues of $3.63B, +5%, were a shade lower than the consensus expectations but operating income increased 15% to $1.97B. The unit’s driver, ESPN, saw an increase in affiliate fees, and lower production costs, offsetting a drop in ad revenue. Sales at the ABC broadcasting operation were essentially flat at $1.50B but operating income was up 15% to $159M as retransmission consent fees compensated for a drop in primetime ad revenues. The Studio was the hero of the quarter with revenues +35% to $1.80B and operating income +302% to $475M. The company says that it benefited from home entertainment sales for Frozen and Thor: The Dark World as well as theatrical sales for Frozen. Theme parks also exceeded forecasts with revenue +8% to $3.56B and operating income +19% to $457M. Although costs are up as Disney invests in its MyMagic+ initiative, parks raised ticket prices and consumers spent more on food, beverages and merchandise. Disney had the highest quarterly earnings per share ever, CEO Bob Iger says. “Our continued strong performance reflects the strength of our brands, the quality of our content, and our unique ability to leverage creative success across the entire Company to drive value,” he adds.