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Disney CEO Encouraged by Rise in Consumer Spending

Tuesday, 7 Feb 2012 | 6:16 PM ET

Walt Disney CEO Robert Iger told CNBC Tuesday the increase in attendance at the company's theme parks and resorts is an encouraging sign of a stronger U.S. economy.

Disney corporate headquarters in Burbank, California.
Reed Saxon
Disney corporate headquarters in Burbank, California.

"We’ve had increased attendance and we’ve had increased spending when people come" from higher prices for tickets, food and beverages, Iger said. "So I think that says a lot about the American consumer…and it said a lot about the experience we offer and the strength of our brand."

Iger spoke after Disney reported fiscal first-quarter earnings of 80 cents a share that exceeded expectations, but revenue of $10.78 billion missed analyst forecasts.

While operating income and attendance at its theme parks and resorts rose, ratings at the company's ESPN and ABC broadcast properties declined on higher ad revenue.

"We had real strength in our media networks, including ESPN," Iger said, with advertising "relatively strong for the quarter."

Disney's Iger on Q1 Results
Robert Iger, Walt Disney president & CEO, explains how the current quarter is trending in ad sales and parks bookings, with CNBC's Julia Boorstin and Maria Bartiromo.

Iger said ratings at the sports network would've been higher had ESPN not been deprived of weeks of pro basketball games because of the National Basketball Association lockout. He also hopes ABC's new programs "bode well for the future," but didn't discuss the ratings decline.

He also refused to comment on a report that Disney and Spanish broadcaster Univision are in talks to create a 24-hour news channel for Latinos in English.

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