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Disney revenues, net income rise as film studio improves

May 11, 2010 |  1:40 pm

Alice Walt Disney Co. reported a 6% increase in revenues and 55% growth in net income for the three months ended April 3 as a significant improvement at its film studio outweighed continued softness at its theme parks.

In total, the Burbank-based entertainment giant reported net income of $953 million on revenue of $8.58 billion, up from $613 million on $8.09 billion in the same quarter a year ago.

Walt Disney Studios, which had a tough 2009 with several major box office disappointments, reported a 7% jump in revenue to $1.54 billion and grew its operating income to $223 million from $13 million a year ago. The company said the jump in operating income was primarily due to higher theatrical revenue from the box office hit "Alice in Wonderland," which was released March 5 and has grossed a total of $960.4 million worldwide.

The company also reported a $71-million restructuring charge that it said was primarily related to the closure of a studio production facility, believed to be director Robert Zemecki's ImageMovers Digital, which was shuttered in March.

Those looking for improved performance at Disney's theme parks as a sign of economic recovery were disappointed, however, as the division reported a 2% increase in revenue to $2.45 billion and a 12% drop in operating income to $150 million. It's the seventh consecutive quarter during which operating income has fallen in Disney's theme parks division. The company said that attendance fell while average guest spending increased.

Growth at powerhouse sports network ESPN drove a 9% increase in Disney's cable networks revenue to $2.4 billion and a 3% increase in cable operating income to $1.18 billion. The ABC broadcast network and television production studio saw revenue grow just 1% to $1.43 billion while operating income plummeted 24% to $123 million, which the company blamed on lower advertising revenue and higher costs. ABC has seen ratings fall this season.

Consumer products revenue was up 20% to $596 million and operating income surged 37% to $133 million, which the company said was in part due to new merchandise from its acquisition of Marvel Entertainment and to the upcoming release of "Toy Story 3."

At Disney's interactive media division, which includes video games and online content, revenue increased 20% to $155 million and operating income swung from to $61 million from a loss of $55 million in the previous year. That improvement included higher subscription revenue from Disney's Club Penguin online games for kids.

Disney stock closed up 1% at $34.76 before financial results were released.

-- Ben Fritz

Photo: Mia Wasikowska in "Alice in Wonderland." Credit: Walt Disney Studios.