Superheroes & 'Star Wars' key for Disney: Analyst

Movies from Marvel and Lucasfilm are key to future results for Disney, a top analyst said Tuesday after the entertainment giant delivered quarterly earnings and revenue that topped Wall Street expectations.

Shares of Disney opened higher following the earnings report. (Click here to track its share price)

The company posted fiscal second quarter adjusted earnings of $1.23 per share, up from $1.11 per share in the year-earlier period. Revenue rose to $12.46 billion from $11.65 billion a year ago.

Analysts had expected Disney to earn $1.11 per share on $12.25 billion in revenue.

of Studio entertainment revenues for the quarter decreased 6 percent to $1.7 billion—partially offset by strong merchandise sales of products relating to the blockbuster "Frozen" movie.

The Avengers unite against Ultron in the film “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
Marvel Studios
The Avengers unite against Ultron in the film “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”

But looking ahead, Disney and Marvel's "Avengers: Age of Ultron" earned a $187.7 million in its debut last weekend—making the movie the second biggest domestic opening of all time.

RBC Capital Market media analyst David Bank said he see legs for the Marvel characters. "Don't think of these movies as sort of classic superhero movies. These movies appeal to a broad ... audience. These are not just 'fanboy' superheroes."

Disney bought Marvel Entertainment in 2009 for $4 billion.

"The next big bet obviously, we'll see what happens with 'Star Wars,'" he continued. "It's been a bad idea to have second-guessed [Disney CEO] Bob Iger on the M&A front for the past decade."

The Millennium Falcon and TIE fighters as seen in the “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” teaser.
Lucasfilm
The Millennium Falcon and TIE fighters as seen in the “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” teaser.

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" is the seventh installment in the saga, and the first movie in the franchise to be released since Disney purchased Lucasfilm in 2012 for $4 billion. "The Force Awakens" is set for release in December.

At the media networks unit, revenue totaled $5.81 billion, up 13 percent. But operating income at Disney-owned cable networks decreased 9 percent to $1.8 billion for the quarter due to a decrease at ESPN—driven by higher programming and production costs.

"The next thing we're going to watch for is over time what is the plan for ESPN. Is there a lighter bundle coming and is ESPN in it," said Bank.

Last week, ESPN sued cable company Verizon in New York State court for allegedly breaching the distribution contract Verizon has with ESPN. Verizon recently rolled out a new TV plan, breaking the traditional cable bundle and offering customers a slimmed-down package of channels, including ESPN.

At Disney's broadcasting segment, operating income increased 90 percent to $302 million, due to growth in affiliate fees, higher program sales, and an increase in advertising revenues.

"What stood out to me ... was the extraordinary performance at the broadcast networks, that they're benefiting from the rating strength at ABC," Bank told CNBC's "Squawk Box," shortly after the earnings announcement.

Meanwhile, the company said parks and resorts revenue gained 6 percent to $3.76 billion in the quarter as an increase in domestic operations offset a decline internationally.

Disney's stock has risen 17.84 percent year to date as of Monday's close.

CNBC's Terri Cullen, Angela Johnson, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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