NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Walt Disney ( DIS) reported Tuesday its first-quarter earnings rose more than 50% from the same period last year, driven by a 10% gain in revenue. For the three months ended Jan. 1, the company said its profit totaled $1.3 billion, or 68 cents per share, an increase of 54.3% from year-ago earnings of $844 million, or 44 cents per share.
Strong gains at ESPN gave a boost to Disney's first-quarter earnings.
The performance was well ahead of the average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters for a profit of 56 cents a share in the January period. Revenue jumped to $10.72 billion in the latest quarter from $9.74 billion last year, beating Wall Street's expectation of $10.52 billion. Revenue from the company's media networks business increased 11% to $4.65 billion from $4.18 billion, driven by strong growth at ESPN and the Disney Channels. "We had an excellent first quarter, driven by strong creative content and our unique ability to leverage great entertainment across the many platforms, businesses and markets in which we operate," president and CEO Robert Iger said. "With net income up 54%, it's a great start to a new fiscal year." Disney's parks and resorts division posted a revenue increase of 8% to $2.87 billion in the latest quarter from $2.66 billion last year, as gains at its domestic and international parks and resorts offset a decrease in Disney's cruise line business. Its studio entertainment division reported essentially flat revenue at $1.93 billion Revenue from the company's consumer products unit was up 24% to $922 million from $746 million in the same year-ago period, primarily because of higher licensing revenue spurred by demand for Toy Story and Marvel merchandise. Revenue at Disney's interactive media division climbed 58% to $349 million in the quarter from $221 million last year. Disney is currently the largest media and entertainment conglomerate in the world in terms of revenue. The company's shares are up more than 8.5% over the past year, and most analysts covering the company remain bullish. According to data compiled by Bloomberg, 17 analysts have a buy rating on the stock, while 13 rate it at neutral. No analyst says sell. --Written by Theresa McCabe in Boston. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Theresa McCabe.