, the media and beverage conglomerate, blew by Wall Street's expectations for second-quarter earnings Thursday, beating analysts' projections by 25 cents as losses in its film unit narrowed.
Seagram shares jumped in early trading, rising 6 15/16, or 12%, to 62 3/4. (Shares closed up 4 3/8, or 8%, to 60 3/16.)
The Montreal-based company posted net income of $1.29 a basic share, or $557 million, including a $59 million after-tax reversal of accrued costs. Excluding the reversal, the company posted net income of $522 million, or $1.21 a basic share, compared with net income of $18 million, or 5 cents a share, excluding an after-tax restructuring charge, in the year-earlier period.
Analysts surveyed by
First Call/Thomson Financial
had expected earnings of $1.04 a share for the quarter.
, of which Seagram owns 92%, posted a $20 million loss in the quarter compared to a $63 million loss on an actual basis in the year-earlier period. Universal -- which has been plagued by a steady stream of
rumors that it is up for sale, despite denials by Seagram -- saw solid performances by the romantic comedy
The Best Man
, which grabbed $33.4 million during the quarter, and the thriller
The Bone Collector
, which finished the year with $63.4 million.
For the quarter, the studio captured 13% of the marketplace, fourth among the big studios, with an estimated $245 million in domestic box-office receipts. The studio "appears to have turned the corner," wrote Jessica Reif-Cohen, analyst at
, in a report earlier this month.
Overall, Seagram's strong quarter was driven mostly by
Universal Music Group
, one of the world's largest music companies, as well as its theme park unit and its wine and spirits group.