Disney 4Q beats estimates on pay TV growth

By Ryan Nakashima

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Nov. 10 2011 3:45 p.m. MST

FILE - In this Jan. 1, 2010 file photo, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse characters wave to visitors and guests during the annual Disney characters' procession at the Tokyo Disneyland in Urayasu, near Tokyo. Walt Disney Co. reports quarterly financial results Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011, after the market close.

Shizuo Kambayashi, File, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

LOS ANGELES — Disney said Thursday that its fourth-quarter net income rose 30 percent, thanks to higher spending by theme park visitors and growth at pay TV operations ESPN and Disney Channel.

The Walt Disney Co.'s movie studio profits grew, helped by the theatrical re-release of "The Lion King" in 3-D. The growth occurred in spite of lower revenue in home entertainment. Consumer products sales and profits grew and the company trimmed losses at its interactive unit.

Net income in the July through September period rose to $1.09 billion, or 58 cents per share. A year ago, Disney posted net income of $835 million, or 43 cents per share, for the same period.

Excluding one-time items, adjusted earnings came to 59 cents per share, beating the 54 cents expected by analysts polled by FactSet.

Revenue rose 7 percent to $10.43 billion, also beating the $10.37 billion expected by analysts.

Its pay TV segment revenue grew 11 percent to $3.47 billion, lifted by the spread of the Disney Channel overseas. ESPN was buoyed by higher fees paid by distributors and higher ad revenue, with fewer spots sold at higher prices. Audience ratings fell compared to the same period a year ago, when the FIFA World Cup boosted viewership.

Revenue for Disney's ABC broadcast division rose just 4 percent to $1.33 billion. Meanwhile, profits grew by more than a third, due in part to cost savings from producing fewer scripted shows in prime-time and more reality programs.

The conglomerate's theme parks saw revenue grow 11 percent to $3.13 billion. Higher ticket prices and hotel rates, in addition to higher food and merchandise sales, contributed to the growth.

The company's net income for its fiscal 2011 grew 21 percent to a record $4.8 billion, or $2.52 per share.

Shares were up 92 cents, or 2.7 percent, at $35.61 in after-hours trading Thursday. Shares had closed up 85 cents, or 2.5 percent, at $34.64 before the results were announced.

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