Disney earnings down, but beats the Street


Like other big media company CEOs, Disney’s Bob Iger told analysts in his quarterly conference call that the WGA strike has had no significant impact on earnings. Indeed, Disney had a stronger fiscal Q1 (October-December) than Wall Street had expected. Revenues companywide were up 9% to 10.45 billion and operating income from the various units, combined, rose 15% to 2.25 billion. Earnings per share fell to 63 cents from 78 cents a year earlier. But that previous year’s quarter had included some one-time gains from sales and income from ABC Radio, which has since been spun-off to Citadel. Excluding those items, EPS was up 29% for the quarter and well ahead of the Thomson/First Call analysts’ consensus of 52 cents.

In his conference call, Iger got lots of questions from analysts concerned about the potential impact of a US recession on Disney’s theme parts and hotels. His answer was that people tend not to cancel long-planned vacations and Disney’s parks are benefiting from the effect of the weak dollar, with Americans staying in the US and more foreigners coming to the Disney parks in the US.

Media Networks revenues rose 10% in fiscal Q1 to 4.17 billion, with operating income up 28% to 908 million. Within that, Cable Networks revenues shot up 13% to 2.41 billion, with growth cited at ESPN, ABC Family Channel and the domestic Disney channels. Cable Networks operating income rose 27% to 586 million. The company does not break out any results for its Radio Disney and ESPN Radio operations.
Primetime ad revenues were up for the ABC Television Network, but without political advertising, CFO Tom Staggs said revenues were down for the O&O station group. However, he noted that pacings for the current quarter are up in the mid single digits. In all, Broadcasting revenues were up 6% for fiscal Q1 to 1.76 billion, with operating income up 30% to 322 million.