Disney Earnings Jump 33% in Q1

The Walt Disney Co.. reported record first quarter earnings with cable networks and its movie business producing big gains.

Net income rose 33% to $1.84 billion, or $1.03 per share, from $1.38 billion, or 77 cents a share, a year ago. Revenues rose 9% to $12.3 billion.

"We had an incredibly strong first quarter, delivering a 32% increase in adjusted earnings per share and double-digit increases in operating income in all business segments," Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of Disney, said in a statement. "These results reflect the strength of our unprecedented portfolio of brands, a constant focus on creativity and innovation, and the continued success of our long-term strategy."

Operating income for Disney’s media networks unit rose 20% to $1.455 billion, propelled by a strong showing from its cable properties, offsetting a 32% decline on broadcast. Revenues were up 4% to $5.29 billion.

At the cable networks, operating income increased 34% to $1.3 billion because of revenue growth at ESPN and higher equity income from A+E Networks, where programming and marketing costs were down and ad revenue rose. Cable revenues were up 6%.

Operating income at the broadcasting properties, including ABC, dropped to $178 million because of higher programming costs, lower program sales and decreased advertising revenue. Some of those programming costs involved a rate increase for Modern Family. Ad sales were up at ABC, where rates were higher and more units were delivered, despite loser ratings, but ad sales were down at the owned TV stations. Broadcast revenues were down 2%.

With the release of Frozen and Thor: The Dark World, Disney's Studio revenue was up 23% to $1.9 billion and operating income was up 75% to $409 million.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.