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Updated from 8:38 a.m. ET



sang a happy tune Tuesday morning as it announced first-quarter earnings that beat analysts' expectations by a penny, helped by improvements in its theme park business.

The Burbank, Calif.-based media and entertainment giant said first-quarter earnings, including its retained interest in

Disney Internet Group


but before charges, were $341 million, or 16 cents a share, compared with $278 million, or 13 cents a share, in the same period last year. According to a survey by

First Call/Thomson Financial

, nine analysts expected first-quarter earnings of 15 cents a share.

Revenue for the quarter was $7.3 billion, up from $6.8 billion a year ago.

Last month, Disney

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announced it was shutting down its Internet portal and converting each share of the Disney Internet Group into roughly 0.19 shares of the parent company. Disney's various Internet properties, including



, will continue to operate separately.

"Looking forward, we believe that our recent move to focus on our core Internet holdings will help us maintain the growth of Disney's bottom line," said Michael Eisner, Disney's chairman and chief executive officer.

During a conference call with analysts, the company reportedly indicated that its earnings for 2001 won't grow at a double-digit rate, but still said it expects EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, beyond 2001 to grow 13% to 15%.

Disney also said that while it wasn't "projecting a significant turnaround in advertising," the company believes "the ad market is firming."

Shares of Disney gained $1.34, or 4.4%, to $31.77 in recent trading on the

New York Stock Exchange