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Disney Earnings Jump Despite Cable Network Unit Decline

The Walt Disney Co. reported higher fourth quarter earnings on huge gains at its studio entertainment business, overcoming a decline at its cable networks.

Net income rose 33% to $2.32 billion, $1.55 a share, from $1.75 billion $1.13 a share, a year ago.

Revenue rose 12% to $14.3 billion.

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Operating income for Disney’s cable networks business was down 6% to $1.159 billion as revenue rose 5% to $4.1 billion. The decline was caused by the consolidation of BAMTech, which had an operating loss.

Disney Channel and Freeform had increases in operating income, the company said.

ESPN was flat as affiliate revenue growth was offset by higher programming and production costs and 5% lower ad revenue.

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Broadcasting operating income jumped 66% to $379 million as revenues rose 21% to $1.833 billion. Increased program sales and affiliate revenue growth drive the gains. Two Marvel series and black-ish were sold during the quarter.

Disney had $10 million lost on its investments in Hulu and A+E Networks. July’s losses were higher than a year ago and income at A+E was lower. Hulu had higher programming, marketing and labor costs. At A+E, programming costs were up and ad revenue was down.

Studio entertainment got a boost from the releases of Incredibles 2 and Ant-Man and the Wasp.

“We’re very pleased with our financial performance in fiscal 2018, delivering record revenue, net income and earnings per share,” said CEO Bob Iger. “We remain focused on the successful completion and integration of our 21st Century Fox acquisition and the further development of our direct-to-consumer business, including the highly anticipated launch of our Disney-branded streaming service late next year.”