Disney beats estimates, sees stronger quarters ahead

Tue Feb 5, 2013 10:07pm EST
 

By Ronald Grover and Sue Zeidler

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Walt Disney Co beat estimates in quarterly adjusted earnings on Tuesday and said it expects the next few quarters to be better on a stronger lineup of films and growing attendance at its theme parks.

The results, which come despite the rising costs of acquiring programming for its ESPN sports juggernaut and included its interactive unit swinging back to profit, helped lift shares in the media giant 1.7 percent in after-hours trading.

Net income for its fiscal first quarter fell 6 percent to $1.38 billion. But on an adjusted basis, it posted earnings of 79 cents a share, ahead of the 76 cents forecast by analysts, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

"We're very pleased with our first-quarter results, which set the stage for continued growth in 2013, following a year of record revenue, net income and earnings per share in 2012," Disney Chief Financial Officer Jay Rasulo said during a call with analysts.

Disney, which bought the iconic "Star Wars" series with its$4.06 billion acquisition of director George Lucas' Lucasfilm of in October, also plans to produce movies based on Lucas properties other than "Star Wars", said Chairman and CEO Bob Iger.

"We have a few scripts in mind," Iger said.

Disney intends to release a new "Star Wars" film in 2015, and plans a new installment every two or three years, and has signed "Star Trek" director J.J. Abrams to direct the first one.

Iger also said that the company intends to leverage the "Star Wars" brand across other areas of Disney's business.   Continued...

 
A portion of the signage at the main gate of The Walt Disney Co. is pictured in Burbank, California May 7, 2012. REUTERS/Fred Prouser