Walt Disney Co. reported a 5 percent increase in net income in the first quarter ended Dec. 31, citing strong advertising revenues at its television and cable networks and an improved performance from its theme parks division. Disney's film and consumer products operations, meanwhile both posted profit declines.


For the October-December period, the Burbank-based media and entertainment company reported net income of $723 million (35 cents per diluted share), compared with $688 million (33 cents) for the year-ago period. Revenues rose 1 percent to $8.67 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were expecting profits of 29 cents a share, on average, and revenues of $8.54 billion.


Resolution of an income tax matter resulted in a reduction in the effective income tax rate, bringing a $24 million benefit. Costs related to the November sale of the Disney Store North America resulted in a $17 million charge.


Revenues from Disney's media networks division were up 11 percent to $3.46 billion from $3.11 billion a year ago, and operating income was up 36 percent to $467 million. Broadcasting revenues rose as a result of higher ad revenues at the ABC network and an increase in NFL and college football game broadcasts. Company-owned and -operated television stations also benefited from political advertising revenues during the November elections.


Cable revenues were up 16 percent to $1.81 billion, due to higher affiliate fees, increased ad revenues at sports cable channel ESPN and higher ratings at ABC Family Television.


First-quarter revenues from the studio entertainment division were down 20 percent to $2.36 billion from $2.96 billion a year ago, due to a decline in worldwide home entertainment sales, despite improvements in domestic motion picture distribution and television. Operating income fell 27 percent to $333 million. Disney attributed the results to lower sales of current DVD titles compared with the previous year, when Disney and Pixar Animation Studios released "Finding Nemo" and several other hit DVD titles.


Revenue from Disney's parks and resorts for the quarter were up 30 percent to $2.12 billion from $1.63 billion, due in part to the consolidation of the Euro Disney in Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland. Higher attendance at several parks boosted revenue and operating income, which rose by 11 percent for the segment to $258 million.


The sale of the Disney Store in November meant no holiday shopping profits for Disney's consumer products division. Revenues fell 14 percent to $725 million in the first quarter, while operating income fell 3 percent to $231 million.


Disney shares closed Monday at $28.63, up 40 cents a share prior to the report. Disney reported earnings after the close of trading. In after-hours trading, Disney shares rose about 2 percent to $29.25, according to CBS Marketwatch.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.