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Disney shares pass all-time high on earnings

Shares of Walt Disney Co. (DIS, Fortune 500) passed their all-time high in after-hours trading Tuesday after the company reported strong earnings growth, driven by rising revenues at ESPN and the runaway success of “The Avengers.”

Despite stumbling with “John Carter,” the sci-fi epic that lost the company $200 million, Disney reported earnings for the first three months of the year that surged 18% versus 2011.

“The Avengers” smashed box-office records in its debut this past weekend, grossing more than $207 million and shaping up to be Disney’s highest-earning film ever. Disney CEO Bob Iger said in a call with analysts Tuesday that Disney would release an “Avengers” sequel “eventually, at a date to be determined.”

“We’re incredibly optimistic about our future, given the strength of our core brands, Disney, Pixar, Marvel, ESPN, and ABC, and our extraordinary ability to grow franchises across our businesses,” Iger said in a statement.

Disney reported earnings, excluding certain items, of 58 cents a share on $9.6 billion in revenue. Shares closed at $44.30 on Tuesday before gaining 1.3% in after-hours trading, hitting $44.86.   Read More

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‘The Avengers’ smashes through competition at the box office with $200.3 million, breaks records

“Marvel's The Avengers”

The Hulk is a smash.

Marvel Studio’s “The Avengers” stomped all over box office records on its way to earning $200.3 million in its debut – the greatest opening weekend of all time.

The movie, which brings together several super hero franchises (Iron Man, The Hulk, Captain America and Thor) within in a bigger franchise, easily surpassed the $169.2 million notched by previous record-holder, last year’s  “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.”

The super hero blockbuster also earned $151 million more overseas – it opened on April 25 in some territories — bringing its worldwide total to an estimated $641.8 million.

“The $200 million opening weekend is just like Sasquatch, it’s something I thought I would never actually see,” says Paul Dergarabedian, box office analyst for Hollywood.com. “This is the four-minute mile at the box office, a mark I never thought we’d see broken.”

“The word of mouth is so incredible on this film, it just keeps building and building, and movie theaters kept having to add showings. The marketplace was expanding to accommodate the demand.”  Read More

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