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Disney Shares Drop as Earnings Miss Expectations

CNBC.com with Wires
Tuesday, 3 Feb 2009 | 5:02 PM ET

Walt Disney shares fell steeply in late trading as the company reported a profit that was lower than last year and badly missed analysts' expectations as global economic woes weighed on television advertising, attendance at its theme parks and its movie businesses.

Excluding one-time items, the media conglomerate earned 41 cents a share in its fiscal first quarter, compared with a profit of 63 cents a share in the same period last year.

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Analysts who follow the company predicted that Disney would turn in earnings of 51 cents a share, according to a consensus estimate compiled by Thomson Reuters.

Shares of Disney were down about 8 percent in after-hours trading Tuesday. The stock rose 2 percent to close at $20.61 during the New York Stock Exchange's regular session.

Sales for the recently ended quarter reached $9.6 billion, down from $10.45 billion last year. The Street was looking for a topline of $10.07 billion.

Weakness at Disney's retail and licensing businesses also dragged on results, and its movie business had difficult comparisons with last year's strong holiday DVD sales of "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" and "Ratatouille."

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"We faced a challenging first quarter with many of our businesses impacted to various degrees by the economic downturn," Disney Chief Executive Robert Iger said in a statement.

Disney's studio revenue dropped 26 percent to $1.95 billion. The company said stronger DVD releases a year ago, including "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" and "Ratatouille," outperformed the holiday releases this year, including "WALL-E" and "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian."

Revenue at the cable networks such as Disney Channel and ESPN rose 2 percent to $2.45 billion, but broadcasting revenue at ABC declined 14 percent to $1.45 billion.

Parks and resorts revenue fell 4 percent to $2.67 billion as attendance at the company's U.S. theme parks and hotel occupancy at its domestic resorts declined.

DVD sales for Disney Studios' "Wall-E" and "Prince Caspian" were no match for last year's titles, bringing the unit's operating profit down 64 percent to $187 million, and revenue down 26 percent to $1.95 billion in the quarter.

The Consumer Products division saw its operating profit fall 8 percent to $265 million, but revenue rose 18 percent to $773 million for the quarter.

Interactive media revenue, its video game and online unit, was broken out for the first time and showed a 13 percent gain to $313 million.

- AP and Reuters contributed to this report.

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