ESPN, Theme Parks Boost Disney’s 2Q Earnings, Offset ‘John Carter’

Higher revenue from ESPN, ABC, theme parks and consumer products helped Disney beat analysts' forecasts

Last Updated: May 8, 2012 @ 4:41 PM

ESPN, ABC and theme parks all propelled Disney to a strong second quarter earnings report, as the company bested analysts' expectations on Tuesday.

Disney reported earnings per share of $0.58, an 18 percent increase over a year ago, and revenue of $9.6 billion, a six percent increase over a year ago. 

"We're pleased with our second quarter performance," CEO Bob Iger said in a statement. "We're incredibly optimistic about our future, given the strength of our core brands, Disney, Pixar, Marvel, ESPN, and ABC, and our extraordinary ability to grow franchises across our businesses, such as "The Avengers," which shattered domestic box office records."

Also Read: 'The Avengers' Heading for Billion Dollars in Box Office

Increases in revenue were spread across the board, as the "Media Networks," "Parks and Resorts," "Consumer Products" and "Interactive Media" sectors all showed growth ranging from 8 to 13 percent.

In terms of the "Media Networks," ESPN stood out, as it often does, driving growth with higher affiliate and advertising revenues. Revenue at the cable networks was up 12 percent and income up 11 percent.

ABC also contributed, as income for the broadcasting division rose 37 percent to $229 million. Disney attributed that to lower programming and production costs from the end of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and decreased daytime and news production costs. Higher advertising revenue was a factor as well.

Also read: 'Avengers' Sequel Is Officially On

Disney's franchise films have long served as sources for both the theme parks and action figures, and it was those latter divisions that fared better in the second quarter.

Revenues at the theme parks rose 10 percent to $2.9 billion and operating income surged 53 percent to $222 million thanks to increased guest spending and attendance. Disney raised prices and rates, but perhaps the somewhat resurgent economy also has people in the mood for Disneylands across the globe.

Disney CFO Jay Rasulo said that Disneyland had its strongest second quarter attendance ever.

Consumer Products chipped in $148 million in income, a four percent increase, thanks to higher licensing fees.

The one division that suffered for the company was Studio Entertainment where revenue declined and "John Carter" turned last year's minor profits into a minor loss.

The film division only contributed about 12 percent of the company's revenue for the quarter, reporting a drop of 12 percent as well. In terms of profits, the division reported a loss of $84 million.

Disney already said "John Carter" cost its film studio $200 million.

Still, Iger projected growth in the quarters to come, thanks in no small part to the astounding success of "The Avengers." The CEO confirmed that the studio has started to develop a sequel to the record-setting movie, which has already passed $700 million worldwide.

Iger said the success of "The Avengers" is an "illustration of why we like Marvel so much –great characters, great storytelling," and credited many of the individual Marvel characters and franchises as well.