Disney Posts a 54% Earnings Increase

Walt Disney Co. on Tuesday posted a 54% jump in earnings in the latest quarter, beating analyst expectations thanks to higher advertising revenue at its ESPN and ABC television networks, stronger performance at its theme parks and cost cutting at its movie studio.

Net income in the three months to Jan. 1 hit $1.3 billion, or 68 cents per share, from $844 million, or 44 cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenue grew 10% to $10.7 billion from $9.7 billion a year ago.

Excluding unusual items, earnings also came to 68 cents per share. That topped the forecast of 56 cents per share by analysts polled by FactSet. Revenue for the fiscal first quarter also topped expectations of $10.5 billion.

"It's a great start to a new fiscal year," CEO Robert Iger said in a statement.

Media network revenue, which includes both ESPN and ABC, grew 11% to $4.6 billion, with operating profit surging 47% to $1.1 billion.

Parks and resorts revenue grew 8% to $2.9 billion, with operating income up 25% to $468 million. The company said guest spending, attendance and hotel occupancy were higher at its domestic parks. The boost in parks earnings, thanks partly to higher average ticket prices, and more spending on food and merchandise came even with higher costs due to the launch of the Disney Dream cruise ship in January.

Movie studio revenue was flat at $1.9 billion but operating income jumped 54% to $375 million, led by the strong performance of Toy Story 3, which grossed more than $1 billion in theaters worldwide after its June release and came out on home video in November.

Consumer products revenue grew 24% to $922 million, with operating income up 28% at $312 million. Interactive media revenue grew 58% to $349 million, while the loss expanded to $13 million from $10 million.

Disney shares rose $1.19, or 2.9%, to $42.39 in extended trading after the release of results Tuesday. Earlier, it closed up 24 cents at $41.18 in the regular session.

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