Disney’s rare miss on media networks, parks

LOS ANGELES - Walt Disney posted a rare quarterly earnings miss on Thursday after TV broadcasting and theme park revenue fell, offsetting a boost from smash “Toy Story 3” and robust advertising sales.

By (Reuters)

Published: Fri 12 Nov 2010, 9:22 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 3:33 AM

Disney’s fourth-quarter net income fell to $835 million, or 43 cents per share, compared with $895 million, or 47 cents per share, a year earlier.

Total revenue fell 1 percent to $9.7 billion from $9.9 billion. Analysts on average had forecast revenue of $9.95 billion.

Wall Street had expected better numbers from a company that has exceeded earnings expectations in each of the past six quarters.

“There’s disappointment for the bulls in the stock,” said Matthew Harrigan, an analyst with Wunderlich Securities. “The studio, for all the success of ‘Toy Story 3,’ had a number of movies that didn’t work that pulled it back down,” he said, citing “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” and “Prince of Persia” as underperformers.

Weak broadcasting results were impacted by a calendar shift, resulting in one fewer week in the reporting period, and a programming writedown in its media networks. Also, ESPN had already recognized a significant amount of revenue from affiliates in the fiscal third quarter of this year, as opposed to the fourth quarter of last year.

Mouse house fails to deliver

Disney’s shares have risen about 15 percent this year amid perceptions an advertising recovery was taking hold. But its lower earnings stood in stark contrast to strong showings by Time Warner, CBS Corp and News Corp, which posted strong profits on the advertising rebound.

Revenue at Disney’s flagship media networks division fell, with the company citing programming writeoffs at A&E/Lifetime.

Revenue at its media networks arm, home to sports cable network ESPN and broadcaster ABC, fell 7 percent to $4.4 billion. Operating income in media networks fell 18 percent to $1.2 billion, missing analysts’ forecasts for about $1.37 billion, due to programming writeoffs.

Parks and resorts revenue slipped 1 percent to $2.82 billion and operating income slid 8 percent to $316 million, as domestic park attendance fell and it faced higher costs.

“The revenue bright spot that beat our estimate was the studios, mostly on the strength of ‘Toy Story 3”’ said David Joyce, analyst with Miller Tabak.

Disney shares slipped 0.4 percent to $35.72 in after-hours trade after closing down 3.05 percent, or $1.13, at $35.86 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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