Marvel, Pixar hits lift Disney past analysts’ forecasts

Christopher Palmeri Bloomberg

Walt Disney Co. reported third-quarter profit that beat analysts’ profit projections, buoyed by strong performances from films including “Captain America: Civil War” and “Finding Dory.”

Profit excluding some items rose to $1.62 a share, Burbank, California-based Disney said Tuesday in a statement. That topped the $1.61 a share average of analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Sales at the world’s largest entertainment company increased 9 percent to $14.3 billion in the period ended July 2, compared with estimates of $14.2 billion.

The results underscore the benefit of Disney’s diverse portfolio. Profit at the film division is helping to counter slower growth in TV, the company’s biggest business, and a drop in earnings from consumer products. Investors have been intently focused on the cable-TV business, home to ESPN and the Disney Channel, after Disney acknowledged losses of subscribers last year. Disney said subscriber losses continued in the quarter.

The quarter also marked a tumultuous one for the company’s theme parks. In June, Disney opened its $5.5 billion Shanghai Disney Resort, the company’s largest foreign investment. The same month a child died in an alligator attack at Disney’s Orlando, Florida, resort and a mass shooter killed 49 people at a nightclub in the city. SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. reported a 7.6 percent drop in attendance last quarter, in part due to weakness in Orlando.

Earlier Tuesday, Euro Disney SCA, the company’s resort in France, reported a 9.2 percent drop in quarterly revenue, citing security concerns in Brussels and Paris, strikes and poor weather.

Disney also said Tuesday it will buy a minority stake in BAMTech, a technology and streaming company formed by Major League Baseball. The company will pay $1 billion in two installments, now and in January 2017.

Disney fell 1.9 percent to $95.15 in extended trading after the announcement. The shares gained 1 percent to $96.97 at the close in New York. They are down 8 percent this year.