February 4, 2015 / 12:43 AM / in 3 years

'Frozen' still hot as Disney profit beats forecasts

A girl poses with an Olaf plush toy from Disney's Frozen toy line at the Toys R Us store in Times Square in New York November 27, 2014. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

(Reuters) - Walt Disney Co’s (DIS.N) quarterly profit topped Wall Street’s estimates as its blockbuster animated film “Frozen” heated up home entertainment and toy sales, and visitors flocked to the company’s U.S. theme parks.

Disney shares rose 4.4 percent to $98.23 in after-hours trading on Tuesday. The stock reached record highs in recent months on strong performances across its TV networks, theme parks and movie studio. Each of its five divisions reported higher operating income for the quarter, ended Dec. 27.

At Disney’s parks unit, operating income rose 20 percent to $805 million as more people visited its U.S. parks and increased spending on tickets, merchandise, food and drinks.

Chief Executive Bob Iger told CNBC that there had been no discernable impact on parks from a measles outbreak that health officials have said began at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, in December.

Disney now plans to open its Shanghai Disneyland theme park in the spring of 2016, Iger told analysts. The company had earlier set a target of a late 2015 opening but decided to add attractions to the park, a $5.5 billion joint venture with China’s state-owned Shanghai Shendi Group.

“Frozen” toys sold particularly well during the holiday shopping quarter, helping Disney’s consumer products unit earn a $626 million profit, up 46 percent from a year earlier.

Disney will fuel the franchise with “Frozen Fever” a seven-minute film that features a new song and will be shown in theaters ahead of its live action “Cinderella” movie, to be released on March 13.

“We actually believe it’s going to generate some more buzz for ‘Frozen,’ and that should generate more buying in terms of consumer products,” Iger said.

Disney’s movie studio recorded a 33 percent jump in profit, driven by home entertainment sales of “Frozen,” Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Maleficent.”

Profit at cable networks fell 2 percent, hurt by higher programming and production costs and lower advertising revenue at sports channel ESPN. Broadcasting unit ABC recorded a 35 percent increase in operating income from higher affiliate fees and program sales.

Net profit attributable to Walt Disney rose to $2.18 billion, or $1.27 per share, in the quarter, from $1.03 per share a year earlier.

On an adjusted basis, the company earned $1.27 per share.

Revenue rose 8.8 percent to $13.39 billion.

Analysts had expected a profit of $1.07 per share on revenue of $12.87 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Reporting By Lehar Maan in Bengaluru and Lisa Richwine in New York; Editing by Peter Henderson, Saumyadeb Chakrabarty, Robin Paxton and Steve Orlofsky

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