Walt Disney Co. ends fiscal 2012 with record revenue, profit, earnings per share
Nov 09, 2012 (Menafn - Orlando Sentinel - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --The Walt Disney Co. reported another year of record revenue and profit Thursday, lifted by improved attendance at its theme parks -- though not at Walt Disney World -- the debut of another large cruise ship, gains at its ESPN sports-television unit, and the continuing popularity of its superhero movie "The Avengers."
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Robert Iger called the entertainment giant's fiscal 2012, which ended Sept. 29, "a great year for Disney by every measure -- creatively, financially and strategically."
The annual and fourth-quarter results were bolstered by a couple of one-time gains -- including the recovery of money Disney lost when Lehman Brothers went bankrupt during the 2008 global fiscal crisis -- and from the acquisition of a controlling interest in UTV Software Communication Ltd.
Disney reported a fourth-quarter profit of 1.2 billion on revenue of 10.8 billion. That translated into earnings of 68 cents a share, up from 58 cents a year earlier. For the year, Disney's profit totaled almost 5.7 billion, up 18 percent and a company record, on revenue of almost 42.3 million, up 3 percent and also a record. Earnings per share also set a record of 3.13, up from 2.52 a share in fiscal 2011.
"These results once again demonstrate our ability to grow our earnings in the short term while investing for the long term," Iger told investors.
Disney's parks-and-resorts unit led the way among the company's divisions in terms of percentage gains for both quarterly and annual profit and revenue. Its fourth-quarter operating profit totaled 497 million, an 18 percent increase from a year ago, on a 9 percent increase in revenue to 3.4 billion. For the year, operating profit jumped 22 percent to 1.9 billion, as revenue rose 10 percent to 12.9 billion.
Attendance at Walt Disney World was down slightly for the year, but the turnout at Disneyland in California -- which opened a "Cars"-themed attraction earlier this year -- was strong enough to offset that decline and generate a 3 percent increase in domestic-park attendance, said Jay Rasulo, the company's senior executive vice president and chief financial officer. Domestic-hotel occupancy was down slightly for the year, to 78 percent, in part because of the opening this summer of Disney's Art of Animation Resort in Central Florida, which added almost 2,000 rooms to Disney World's inventory.
Disney executives, during a conference call with investment analysts, boasted of things to come, based largely on the company's recent acquisition of filmmaker George Lucas' Lucasfilm Ltd. and its valuable Star Wars franchise. They would not discuss any plans, other than production of a seventh "Star Wars" film scheduled to open in 2015, but Iger again hinted that Disney theme parks could see more of a Star Wars presence.
That is not likely to occur soon, though. Rasulo indicated that fiscal 2013 will be a transitional year that won't include the introduction of hefty new investments.
Recent or ongoing projects include the new cruise ship Disney Fantasy, which began sailing out of Port Canaveral earlier this year; an expansion of Hong Kong Disneyland; construction of a Disneyland in Shanghai, China; the expansion of Fantasyland in Disney World's Magic Kingdom; and the rollout of a new high-tech guest-planning system, known as NextGen, that will allow theme-park guests to plan and book even visits to individual attractions before they leave home.
"We also feel good about expected attendance at Walt Disney World for the year," Rasulo said. "We also feel really good about Fantasyland rolling out. ... We think that is going to drive some attendance gains."
Media networks, Disney's largest unit in terms of revenue and operating profit, owed much of its improvement to ESPN, its sports-programming juggernaut, which added the Wimbledon tennis championships to its lineup, and the continuing global expansion of its Disney cable-TV channels. Meanwhile, Iger noted that the Marvel superhero movie "The Avengers" has become the world's third-highest-grossing movie of all time -- "a global phenomenon and an incredibly important franchise for us."
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