Disney Earnings Bounce, Thanks in Part to ‘Alice’

Strong box office for the Tim Burton fantasy helps the Walt Disney Co. grow profits by more than half

Tim Burton’s "Alice in Wonderland" and the acquisition of Marvel boosted Disney’s fiscal second-quarter profit 55 percent, the company said on Tuesday.

Disney’s studio revenues jumped 7 percent to $1.5 billion, and the division posted a $210 million profit during the period thanks to the $910 milliom worldwide box office of "Alice" (compare that to "Confessions of a Shopaholic" and "Race to Witch Mountain," Disney’s theatrical slate during the same timeframe last year).

Bob Iger, Disney’s president and CEO, lauded the "incredible box office performance" of "Alice in Wonderland’" and the company’s acquisition of Marvel, whose "Iron Man 2" has grossed $334 million in global box office in its first two weeks, as results that "clearly show the benefits of investing in high quality branded content" (keeping in mind that "Iron Man 2" was released by Paramount via a pre-aquisition deal with Marvel).

Overall, Disney’s revenues increased 6 percent to $8.6 billion. The company earned 48 cents per share, slightly outperforming analysts’ expectations of 46 cents.

Revenue grew for each of Disney’s five units, all but two of which – theme parks and television networks — saw an uptick in operating income.

Disney’s television unit increased revenues 6 percent, as the Disney Channel and ESPN saw profits tick up on the strength of higher affiliate and advertising rates.