Disney ends fiscal year with up quarter


Fiscal Q4 (July-September) saw growth in revenues and profits for both the broadcast operating and cable TV at The Walt Disney Company. For that matter, the entire company had a pretty good quarter. Revenues rose 7% to $10.43 billion and segment operating income (SOI) was up 23% to $2.11 billion.

“Fiscal 2011 was a great year financially and strategically, demonstrating the strength of our brands and businesses with record revenue, net income and earnings per share,” said Disney President and CEO Robert A. Iger. “We are confident the Company is well-positioned to deliver long-term value for our shareholders with our focus on quality content, compelling uses of technology and global asset growth.”

Cable Networks (which includes the tiny radio operations as well) revenues grew 11% to $3.47 million and SOI gained 18% to $1.26 billion. The company pointed to growth at ESPN as a major driver.

Broadcasting revenue was up 4% to $1.33 billion, but SOI jumped 37% to $201 million. The company said ad revenues were higher for the ABC Network, although that was partially offset by lower political advertising at the O&O stations. Lower production costs helped improve SOI.

During the company’s Wall Street conference call CFO Jay Rasulo gave some detail on how the O&O stations have been doing with ad sales. Ad revenue was down 11% in the past quarter, but, excluding political and the recently sold Flint and Toledo stations, ad revenues were up low single digits, he said. In the current quarter ad sales are pacing down, but up if you exclude political.

“On the ABC front, scatter pricing has been very strong this quarter – as Jay mentioned, in the mid-20% range, 26% over the Upfront – but it has slowed slightly these last few weeks. That said, the option pickups for January, February and March are running slightly above where we thought we would be and when we look at the mix of inventory that we have left, including in some very appealing new programs…we feel good about the inventory that we have left and our demographics are strong. We’ve been quite strong in Women 18-49 as a for instance. So, a little slowing the last few weeks. Up nicely over the Upfront this quarter and we’ll wait and see,” Iger told analysts of the network business.