Disney doubles up

first_img 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! BURBANK – Fueled by the robust DVD sales of “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” and “Cars,” The Walt Disney Co. more than doubled its net income to $1.7 billion during a stellar first quarter. The entertainment conglomerate announced Wednesday during an earnings call with analysts that it also had strong one-time gains during the quarter totaling $1.1 billion from the sale of its shares in US Weekly magazine and the E! Entertainment Channel. But even without the one-time boosts, the DVD sales and strong ratings for ABC and cable channels, including ESPN, were enough on their own to make for a strong three months ending Dec. 30. “These results are particularly gratifying given the great year we had in 2006 and are another clear sign our strategy is driving growth and creating shareholder value,” said Disney President and CEO Bob Iger. The net income of $1.7 billion, or 79 cents per share, dwarfed the $734 million, or 37 cents a year, posted in the same period a year earlier. Disney’s revenue was up by 10 percent to $9.725 billion from the $8.854 billion reported 12 months ago. The studio division led the way with revenue of $2.6 billion, an increase of 29 percent. The division’s operating income shot up more than fourfold to $604 million from 2006’s first-quarter total of $128 million. “It’s not every day that the same studio had the top two movies in a given year and to have both films come out on DVD in the same quarter,” said Rick Munarriz, senior analyst for media and technology investing at The Motley Fool. The DVD surge was also helped by the re-release of “The Little Mermaid” and was enough to offset the first-quarter box office disappointments “The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause” starring Tom Allen – the least successful of the three films in the franchise – and “Deja Vu” starring Denzel Washington. Disney’s media networks division was also strong with a 6 percent bump in revenue to $3.9 billion. This was driven by an increase in subscription fees at Disney’s international television channels and strong DVD sales of the Disney Channel movie “High School Musical” and the hit dramas “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Lost.” “Disney earned their luck,” Munarriz said. “Under Iger, they have basically blown away analyst estimates every single quarter since he took over.” The news was good for the Parks and Resorts division largely because of Florida’s Walt Disney World Resort, which had higher average ticket prices driving up guest spending. This offset lower attendance and guest spending at Anaheim’s Disneyland Resort as Hong Kong Disneyland also struggles. “The early going at Hong Kong has been more challenging than we had hoped,” Disney Chief Financial Officer Thomas Staggs told analysts gathered for a two-day conference at Walt Disney World in Florida. Revenue for the quarter was up by 4 percent to $2.5 billion and operating income increased 8 percent to $405 million. Disney’s consumer products division saw its revenue fall by 6 percent in the quarter to $692 million and its operating income drop 13 percent to $235 million. Disney shares rose 29 cents to $35.48 at the end of regular trading on the New York Stock exchange. In after-hours trading, shares rose an additional 62 cents. [email protected] (818) 713-3758last_img read more