Big wheels keep on turning at Disney. Shares are up about 1.8% in pre-market trading, suggesting they’ll hit a new high, after the company reported fiscal Q2 results well ahead of Wall Street’s expectations.
The entertainment giant generated $2.1 billion in net income, up 10% vs the first three months of 2014, on revenues of $12.5 billion, up 7%. Analysts looked for revenues of $12.25 billion. Earnings at $1.24 a share topped forecasts for $1.10.
The quarter “demonstrates the incredible ability of our strong brands and quality content to drive results,” CEO Bob A. Iger says. “The power of this winning combination is once again reflected in the phenomenal worldwide success of Marvel’s Avengers: Age Of Ultron, which has opened at number one in every market so far.”
The early 2015 numbers show surprising strength in broadcasting, and weakness in cable — but with explanations.
ABC revenues were up 19% to $1.8 billion with operating income up 90% to $302 million. Ad sales increased, which the company attributes to “higher primetime ratings and rates.” The unit also benefited from retransmission consent payments and sales of programming including Marvel’s Daredevil, Lost and Once Upon A Time.
But the cable networks, led by ESPN, saw just an 11% increase in revenues to $4 billion, with operating income dropping 9% to $1.8 billion. Ad sales and affiliate fees were up. Sports programming costs also rose, though, with the addition of bowl games, and NFL wild card playoff and the September 2014 launch of the SEC Network.
Disney’s studio was unable to duplicate the success it saw last year with Frozen. With a slate led by Big Hero 6, revenues fell 6% to $1.7 billion with operating income down 10% to $427 million. Domestic home entertainment and overseas theatrical sales were down, although the studio shared some of the revenue from the ongoing sales of Frozen-related merchandise.
Theme parks continued to impress as strength in the domestic destinations outweighed weakness overseas at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort and growing pre-opening costs at Shanghai Disney Resort. The unit’s revenues grew 6% to $3.8 billion with operating income up $24% to $566 million.
And Consumer Products continued to grow, although not as much as some analysts expected, helped by Frozen and Avengers licensed merchandise. Revenues increased 10% to $971 million with operating income up 32% to $362 million.