Disney sings happy tune as earnings top estimates

Walt Disney Statue Michael Sult

Walt Disney topped quarterly earnings and revenue expectations Tuesday, thanks to strong performance of its blockbuster animated film "Frozen."

The company posted earnings of $1.11 a share, excluding one-time items, on sales of $11.65 billion. Analysts had expected the company to report earnings excluding items of 96 cents a share on $11.25 billion in revenue, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.

The earnings of $1.11 a share were 11 cents higher than the highest of 27 Wall Street estimates for the quarter.

Shares gained in extended-hours trading. The Dow component has rallied nearly 6 percent year to date.

"We're extremely pleased with our results this quarter, delivering double-digit increases in operating income across all of our businesses and the highest quarterly earnings per share in the history of the Company," said Disney CEO Robert Iger, in a press release. "Our continued strong performance reflects the strength of our brands, the quality of our content, and our unique ability to leverage creative success across the entire company to drive value."

Disney announced at the end of March that its recent animated film "Frozen" topped $1 billion in revenues, making it the highest-grossing animated film of all time.

Love for Anna and Elsa, not to mention Olaf the snowman, helped move mountains of merchandise for Disney this quarter. Nine out of the top 10 items sold in Disney stores were related to the blockbuster movie, Disney executives said in a conference call.

Iger said "Frozen" should become one of Disney's top five franchises, and he noted that the company is already taking steps to boost the characters' visibility at its theme parks and is developing a Broadway show.

The company has also added $800 million to its investment in the Chinese amusement park and resort Shanghai Disney, which is under construction. This will be Disney's third park in Asia-the company already has parks in Tokyo and Hong Kong-and its first foray into mainland China. Shanghai Disney is expected to open in 2015.

The entertainment behemoth is also spending $500 million to buy Maker Studios, one of YouTube's most popular channels. Maker Studios is probably best known for its show "Epic Rap Battles of History" which averages 30 million views per episode. The deal is expected to close at the end of the third quarter.

Separately, Walt Disney Parks announced its newest theme park attraction, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train , will open May 28. The new ride is the first new roller coaster at Walt Disney World since 2006.

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