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Disney earnings rise in quarter; video game helps

LOS ANGELES — The Walt Disney Co.’s earnings rose 12 percent in the company’s fiscal fourth quarter as parks revenue rose and its interactive division posted an operating profit on the surprising strength of its new video game “Disney Infinity.”

The overall results were largely in line with forecasts, but shares dropped in after-hours trading Thursday, continuing a downward slide begun earlier in a weak day for stocks.

Disney also Thursday announced developments for two major subsidiaries: Marvel and Lucasfilm. The company set the release date for “Star Wars: Episode VII” at Dec. 18, 2015. It also said earlier it would produce four original TV series for Netflix based on characters including “Daredevil” that would begin playing in 2015.

Net income in the three months that ended on Sept. 28 came to $1.39 billion, or 77 cents per share. That’s up from $1.24 billion, or 68 cents per share, in the same months a year ago. Revenue grew 7 percent to $11.57 billion.

Analysts polled by FactSet had expected earnings of 76 cents per share on revenue of $11.4 billion.

Parks and resorts revenue grew 8 percent to $3.72 billion as visitors spent more in the U.S.

Interactive revenue more than doubled to $396 million, as the division squeaked out its second quarterly profit since results began being broken out for the unit in late 2008. Sales of “Infinity” as well as a licensing agreement for mobile games in Japan drove the gains.

Revenue at its pay TV networks including ESPN rose a tepid 1 percent to $3.57 billion, largely because a big chunk of fees from distributors came in the previous quarter due to meeting its audience obligations early. Broadcasting revenue from its ABC network rose 2 percent to $1.37 billion.

The movie studio showed resilience despite taking a write-down on “The Lone Ranger” that the company previously said would amount to $160 million to $190 million. Studio revenue rose 7 percent to $1.51 billion thanks to strong movie ticket sales for “Monsters University.”

Shares of Burbank, Calif.-based Disney fell $1.91, or 2.8 percent, to $65.24 in after-hours trading. The stock closed down 2.7 percent to $67.15 in regular trading Thursday.