Disney's Upside Surprise on Media Networks Growth
The Walt Disney Company did it again, beating last year's quarterly numbers with results that blew past Wall Street expectations.
Earnings per share for Disney's fiscal first quarter came in at 47 cents per share, compared to the 38 cents Wall Street was expecting and the 41 cents the company earned last year.
Revenue was $9.74 billion, up from $9.6 billion a year ago.
Disney's results are really a Media Networks story, a sign of the improving health of the ad market and the fact that subscription fees continue to grow. Media Networks, which include ESPN, Disney Channel and ABC Family, as well as ABC, grew revenues 7 percent and operating income 11 percent. It's no surprise that cable networks are growing strong. Considering how much broadcast has suffered through the ad downturn, it is notable that ABC is showing growth — a 5 percent increase in revenue and a whopping 30 percent increase in operating income. I have to point out though that the numbers look bigger than they actually are, because these numbers look particularly robust in contrast to the year-ago quarter when a bad debt charge dragged on results.
Despite Wall Street concern that the movie studio would continue to drag on results, it managed to grow operating income 30 percent on just one percent lower revenue. Better DVD performance this past quarter of "Up" and "The Proposal" helped compensate for the less than stellar theatrical performance of "Princess & the Frog."
This quarter also had lower costs than the year-ago quarter.
The parks and resorts division was effectively flat, but the domestic parks benefited from higher attendance. Consumer products results were down slightly, likely a sign of retailers tighter inventory control this past holiday season.
Right after the Disney earnings call I'm sitting down with CEO Bob Iger for an exclusive interview that will air starting early Wednesday morning, and will be available here on mediamoney.cnbc.com. I'm curious to hear whether Iger's determined to negotiate retransmission fees for ABC the way Rupert Murdoch negotiated a deal for Time Warner Cable to pay for Fox . Also, while the theme parks have managed to maintain attendance levels with deep discounting, what'll happen when prices return to previous levels?
Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com