POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Aug 8, 2012
LOS ANGELES » A box-office blast from "The Avengers" and an enthusiastic response to the revamp of Disneyland's California Adventure theme park helped The Walt Disney Co. reap a better-than-expected third-quarter profit.
Disney's movie studio was behind much of the earnings gain as studio profit surged to $313 million from $49 million a year ago, backed by upbeat ticket sales to movies such as "The Avengers" and "Brave." However, revenue missed expectations as studio revenue was roughly flat at $1.63 billion, much less than the $1.77 billion analysts expected. Smaller revenue from DVD and Blu-ray disc sales than a year ago was a key factor in the miss.
CEO Bob Iger said attendance at Disney California Adventure accounted for about half of the visits to its Anaheim, Calif., parks, up from just a quarter previously. The success comes on the heels of the June unveiling of a $1 billion-plus overhaul that included the addition of an area based on the movie "Cars." Total revenue in the parks and resorts segment gained 9 percent to $3.44 billion, benefiting from a full quarter of operations of its newest cruise ship, the Disney Fantasy, higher Disneyland attendance and higher ticket prices. Last year, parks results were hurt by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
Net income for the three months ended June 30 rose 24 percent to $1.83 billion, or $1.01 per share. That beat the 93 cents per share expected by analysts polled by FactSet. Revenue rose 4 percent to $11.09 billion, well short of the $11.32 billion expected by analysts.
Disney took issue with the analysts' expectations, which it said detracted from its highest quarterly earnings ever. The company does not issue formal earnings guidance.
"The so-called revenue miss is a miss of estimates by people who don't have the ability to see or estimate where our revenue is going to be certainly as accurately as we do," Iger said in an interview on Fox Business News which is set to air today.
Iger told analysts on a conference call on Tuesday that he expects the fortunes of Disney's movie studio to get better. "We feel good about our slate," he said. "We do believe were going to continue to improve returns on that business led by the franchises and the big brand power of our films."
Iger added that Joss Whedon would return to write and direct the sequel to "The Avengers," the No. 3 highest-grossing film of all time, as well as develop a TV show for broadcast network ABC. Although the sequel's release date isn't set, Disney plans to release a slew of sequels featuring Avengers characters.