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NHL's Return Drives Madison Square Garden to 2Q Earnings Beat

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 (REUTERS)

Sports and entertainment company Madison Square Garden (MSG) beat the Street on Friday with a 29% jump in quarterly profits that was fueled by the return of the National Hockey League to a full season.

Shares of the owner of the New York Knicks and Rangers rallied 3% on the fiscal second-quarter earnings beat.

MSG said it earned $60.5 million, or 77 cents a share, last quarter, compared with a profit of $49.6 million, or 60 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts had called for EPS of 66 cents.The year-earlier period was hurt by the NHL's work stoppage.

Revenue soared 31% to $509.4 million, topping the Street’s view of $496 million.

“We benefited from the return to a full NHL regular season, the continued positive impact of the Transformation project and improvement in our entertainment business,” MSG CEO Hank Ratner said in a statement.

MSG said sports revenue surged 104% to $183.4 million, largely due to the Rangers playing a full season.

MSG reported a 15% increase media revenue to $180.7 million thanks to the full schedule of NHL games. The company’s MSG Network airs Rangers, New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils games.

Entertainment revenue ticked up 8% last quarter to $163.1 million amid stronger revenue for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular franchise and stronger event sales at the Beacon Theatre and The Theater at Madison Square Garden.

Shares of New York-based MSG rallied 3.31% to $60.50 ahead of Friday’s opening bell. The company’s shares have underperformed the broader markets over the past year, gaining just 8% through Thursday’s close.

Follow Matt Egan on Twitter @MattMEgan5