Disney posts 1st quarter profit that beats Wall Street forecasts

The Walt Disney Co. said Tuesday it made $844 million in the holiday quarter, roughly flat compared with a year earlier, as restructuring charges offset cost cutting and gains at ESPN and the Disney Channel.

The advertising recovery had an uneven effect at Disney, with ESPN and Disney Channel benefiting from higher ad revenues, but the ABC broadcast network suffering from lower ratings and advertising prices. ABC nevertheless benefited from sales of “Criminal Minds” to other networks for reruns and in international markets.

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Disney, which is based in Burbank, Calif., is closely tethered to consumer confidence because spending on its theme parks, stores and movies is a good barometer of how freely people are spending their extra cash.

Theme park revenues were flat as a decline in attendance at Disneyland Paris was offset by higher attendance in the U.S. parks.

Movie studio revenue was flat, but cost-cutting helped profits, while sales and income for consumer products fell.

Net income came to 44 cents per share, down a penny per share, or $845 million, from the same quarter a year earlier. Revenue rose 1 percent to $9.74 billion.

The results beat analyst forecasts. Excluding one-time items, adjusted earnings rose 15 percent to 47 cents per share, compared with 41 cents per share in the prior-year quarter. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were expecting earnings of 39 cents per share on $9.62 billion in revenue.

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Shares gained 43 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $30.27 in extended trading after the results were announced. Earlier, it closed up 36 cents, or 1.2 percent, at $29.84.

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