Los Angeles Business Journal

Mixed Quarter at Disney

By Deborah Crowe Originally published February 7, 2012 at 2:58 p.m., updated February 8, 2012 at 10:34 a.m.

Walt Disney Co.’s profit rose 12 percent in its fiscal first quarter on lower costs, but revenue fell short of Wall Street forecasts as film revenue declined.

After the Tuesday markets closed, the Burbank entertainment giant reported net income of $1.46 billion (80 cents a share) for the quarter ended Dec. 30, compared with $1.3 billion (68 cents) in the same period a year earlier. Revenue rose 1 percent to less than $10.8 billion.

Excluding one-time items, earnings were 80 cents a share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters on average expected the company to have adjusted earnings of 72 cents on revenue of $11.2 billion.

Revenue from Disney's studio division fell 16 percent in the quarter to $1.6 billion, as the surprise success of feature film "The Muppets" and steady home video sales for "Cars 2" couldn’t overcomes tough year-ago comparisons with the huge hit "Toy Story 3."

Revenue from the media group, which includes ESPN, ABC and the Disney Channel, rose 3 percent to $4.8 billion, but advertising revenue was flat at ESPN and broadcast ABC. Parks and resorts revenue jumped 10 percent to $3.2 billion, fueled both by domestic theme parks and the company’s growing cruise ship business. Sales in the interactive segment fell 20 percent to $279 million as Disney continued to shift f focus from console games to social gaming and other newer platforms.

“We’re off to a good start in this fiscal year executing on our ongoing strategy, deriving greater value from our brands,” said Chief Executive Robert Iger in a statement. “We are confident that our commitment to creating and providing exceptional family entertainment on multiple platforms continues to position us to deliver long-term shareholder value.”

Disney shares were up 49 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $41.47 in Wednesday midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange.