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Disney profits rise on ESPN, theme park results

(AP) LOS ANGELES - Disney (DIS) said Tuesday that net income in the first three months of the year grew 21 percent as better performance from pay TV network ESPN and its theme parks offset a loss at the movie studio driven by the flop "John Carter."

Net income in the three months to March 31 rose to $1.14 billion, or 63 cents per share, from $942 million, or 49 cents per share, a year ago.

Earnings came to 58 cents per share after excluding one-time items, including a $184 million non-cash gain related to Disney acquiring a controlling stake in Indian media company UTV. That topped the 55 cents expected by analysts polled by FactSet.

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Revenue rose 6 percent to $9.63 billion from $9.08 billion. That also beat the $9.57 billion expected.

Disney's stock rose 80 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $45.10 in after-hours trading after the release of fiscal second-quarter results.

Disney's movie studio had a loss of $84 million, which was on the low end of the $80 million to $120 million range that the company forecast based on the box office performance of "John Carter." Revenue fell 12 percent to $1.2 billion.

Gains elsewhere undid the damage.

CEO Bob Iger said in a statement that the Burbank, Calif.-based company was "incredibly optimistic about our future."

He also said "The Avengers," the latest movie from Disney subsidiary Marvel, had surpassed $702 million in ticket sales since its release abroad on April 25. It opened in the U.S. on Friday.

Revenue from pay TV operations including ESPN and Disney Channel rose 12 percent to $3.2 billion as fees from distributors and advertising sales grew. Broadcast TV revenue from its ABC operations rose 2 percent to $1.5 billion.

Parks and resorts revenue grew 10 percent to $2.9 billion as attendance and spending grew in the U.S. Gains at overseas parks in Tokyo and Hong Kong were partially offset by a decrease in Paris.

Consumer products revenue rose 8 percent. Its interactive media division saw revenue rise 13 percent while trimming its losses.