Disney Profit Rises 12%, Boosted by TV Networks
Walt Disney reported a 12 percent rise in quarterly profit, driven by its television networks and US theme parks, but revenue slightly missed expectations.
Sports network ESPN reported a rise in advertising revenue, and the unit recognized previously deferred revenue as well, driving network growth. With Disney's theme parks, a drop in Hong Kong Disneyland's results offset improvement elsewhere.
The second-largest U.S. entertainment company said net income rose to $877 million, or 44 cents per share, from $782 million, or 36 cents per share, in last year's fiscal fourth quarter. Quarterly revenue rose 3 percent to $8.9 billion.
Excluding a one-time tax benefit, the entertainment company reported a profit of 42 cents a share, compared with 36 cents a share, a year earlier.
Analysts expected Walt Disney to turn in a profit of 41 cents a share in its fiscal fourth quarter, on revenue of $8.98 billion, according to a consensus compiled by Thomson Financial.
Shares of Disney declined about 1 percent in after-hours electronic trading after closing at $33.63 Thursday.
Media networks revenue rose 14 percent to $4.0 billion in the quarter, while operating income at the segment rose 25 percent to $1.1 billion. Parks revenue rose 10 percent to $2.8 billion, while the unit's income rose 9 percent to $430 million.
Chief Financial Officer Tom Staggs said on a conference call Hong Kong Disneyland creditors had agreed to amend debt covenants and that Disney would forego royalties for a couple of years.
Staggs later told analysts that he did not see indications of an economic downturn in travel, tourism or ad markets.
The studio posted a 24 percent decline in revenue to $1.5 billion compared with a year earlier, when Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest'' was playing, and consumer products revenue rose 5 percent to $590 million.
Like rivals Time Warner and Viacom, Disney is benefiting this year from an unprecedented string of box office blockbusters and strong cable advertising rates. A weak dollar also boosted visitation to Disney resorts and theme parks, as U.S. vacationers stayed closer to home.
Disney's share price rose less than 1 percent in its fourth quarter ended Sept. 29. The stock was trading at a multiple of 15.7 times estimated 2008 earnings, compared with 15.7 for Time Warner and 15.6 for Viacom, according to Reuters Estimates.
- Reuters contributed to this report.