Disney Q1 Earnings Buoyed by TV, Theme Parks

Cable Networks' Operating Income Up 27%, ABC Up 30%
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On a day when the Dow plummeted 370 points, Disney reported first-quarter earnings buoyed by the strong performance of its TV networks and theme-park business.

Reporting net income of $1.25 billion, or 63 cents per share, which represented a 27% decline from $1.68 billion a year earlier, Disney pointed to a strong advertising market for its cable and broadcast networks and growth at both its domestic and international parks and resorts.

Revenues for the period ended Dec. 29 were $10.45 billion, a 9% gain over the period in the year previous, while operating income rose 15% to $2.249 billion.

For studio entertainment, revenues were flat and operating income sank 15% to $514 million. But the company’s media networks saw a 10% gain in revenue to $4.169 billion and a 28% jump in operating income to $908 million.

Operating income at Disney’s cable networks increased 27%, to $586 million, driven by growth at ESPN, ABC Family and domestic Disney Channel (thanks largely to the High School Musical 2 and Hannah Montana franchises).

In broadcasting, ABC saw a 30% jump in operating income to $322 million thanks to higher primetime ad revenue, although high programming costs and lower ratings took their toll.

News Corp. reported robust earnings Monday, with chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch calling it the highest-operating-income quarter in company history.

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