It’s a pretty big beat, so there are a lot of factors at play lifting shares 3.3% in post-market trading. But consumer products, often an afterthought at Disney, stood out in the last three months of 2014 as merchandise from the animated hit Frozen sold well from Halloween through Christmas. Disney reported net income of $2.18 billion, +18.6% versus the same period in 2013, on revenues of $13.39 billion, +8.8%. The top line was well ahead of the $12.87 billion that analysts expected. And earnings at $1.27 per share exceeded forecasts by 20 cents.
“Our results once again reflect the strength of our brands and high-quality content and demonstrate that our proven franchise strategy creates long-term value across all of our businesses,” CEO Bob Iger says.
Disney’s cable networks saw an 11% lift in revenues to $4.17 billion with increases in payments from cable and satellite companies overcoming a drop in ratings and ad revenue at ESPN. But operating income fell 2% to $1.26 billion partly due to rising programming costs for NFL rights and SEC Network programming as well as what the company describes as “higher pilot write-offs” plus costs for a new channel in Germany.
At ABC revenues were up 11% to $1.69 billion while operating income improved 35% to $240 million. Here, too, the company was helped by higher payments from pay-TV distributors. Ad sales fell at the network, but that was partly offset by the additional political ads at local TV stations.
The movie studio told a mixed story with home-video bailing out theatrical. Revenues were down 2% to $1.86 billion while profits increased 33% to $544 million. Home entertainment benefited from sales of Guardians Of The Galaxy, Frozen, and Maleficent – which compared to last year’s Monsters University and The Lone Ranger. But in theaters the lineup featuring Big Hero 6 was no match for last year’s releases which included Frozen and Thor: The Dark World.
Disney’s theme parks boasted a 9% gain in revenues to $3.91 billion with operating income of 20% to $805 million. Some of the increase was due to the fact that the Disney Magic cruise ship was in dry dock for part of the year-end period in 2013. But domestic parks improved their results with higher volumes and guest spending. International weighed down the operation with preopening expenses at Shanghai Disney Resort, higher operating costs at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, and the weakening Japanese Yen at Tokyo Disney Resort.
Consumer products help to save the day with revenues up 22% to $1.38 billion and profits up 46% to $626 million. The company attributes most of the gains to Frozen, but adds that Disney Channel properties, Mickey and Minnie, Spider-Man and Avengers merchandise also helped.