Profit soared nearly 40 percent at the Walt Disney Company in its most recent quarter, propelled by three blockbuster movies, strong merchandise sales and growth at ESPN.
The media giant reported a 40% jump in earnings to $1.3 billion, up from $954 million a year earlier. Revenue reached $10 billion for the three-month period ending July 3, an increase of 16% from a year ago.
The overall results, which beat analyst forecasts by a wide margin, show the degree to which hit movies can bolster Disney, the world’s largest media company. “Toy Story 3,” “Alice in Wonderland” and “Iron Man 2” — the top three movies of the year with a combined $2.5 billion in global ticket sales — are all owned by Disney and had parts of their runs in theaters during the quarter.
ESPN’s soccer coverage, as well as its broadcasts of the NBA Finals in which the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics, contributed to a “fantastic quarter both creatively and commercially” for Disney’s Media Networks group. That division includes the company’s network, cable television channels and locally owned stations.
Media Networks, the Disney unit that includes ESPN and ABC, reported operating income of $1.9 billion. Aside from higher ad revenue, that result — a 43 percent increase over the year-earlier period — was driven by $255 million in affiliate fees that ESPN realized a quarter earlier than anticipated.