Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Media Companies Post Higher Profits in Latest Quarter

Major media companies posted broadly stronger earnings in the latest quarter, with Walt Disney and Viacom besting previous results by double digits. For the three months ended July 3, Walt Disney Company saw its net income jump 40% to $1.3 billion on a 16% surge in revenues to $10.0 billion. For the nine month period earnings shot up 30% to $3.1 billion on an 8% jump in revenues. Best performer at the Mouse House was the Media Networks division, which saw a 43% surge in operating income to $1.9 billion on a 19% rise in revenues to $4.7 billion. Results were driven by a $344 million recognition of previously deferred revenue at ESPN as well as higher ad revenues at the sports broadcaster. The Disney Channel also scored better results with higher affiliate revenues stateside and higher ad revenues internationally. The ABC network posted slightly better results as well. The company's Studio Entertainment segment also experienced a surge, of 30% to $1.6 billion in revenues, and swung to an operating profit of $123 million in the quarter, compared to a $12 million loss in the same period last year. The studio benefited from strong results from Toy Story 3, Alice in Wonderland, and Iron Man 2.

Of Disney's five core divisions, only Parks and Resorts experienced a decline in the quarter, as operating income fell 8% to $477 million in the quarter despite a 3% rise in revenues to $2.8 billion. For the first nine months, Parks and Resorts is down 7% in profits. Disney blamed the weaker results on higher costs and lower attendance at its theme parks. Meanwhile, Viacom, the parent of Nickelodeon and Paramount Pictures, also posted much stronger results, thanks to a 12% jump in operating income at its Media Networks division and a swing to profit at Filmed Entertainment. For the three months ended June 30, Viacom had operating income of $794 million on revenues of $3.3 billion. Though revenues were flat, operating income was up 35% from the same period last year. For the first six months of 2010 Viacom earned $1.3 billion on revenues of $6.1 billion.

Quarterly results at Media Networks were helped by higher ad and affiliate revenues, while Filmed Entertainment revenues fell 10% due to lower home video revenues. During the second quarter Media Networks earned $789 million on revenues of $2.1 billion. Filmed Entertainment showed a profit of $69 million on revenues of $1.3 billion. Results at Time Warner were much more subdued, though the parent of Warner Bros. and Cartoon Network also saw generally improved results across the board. During the second quarter Time Warner earned $1.2 billion (+15%) on revenues of $6.3 billion (+8%).

Improved results were largely driven by better results at the company's Networks division, where operating income rose from $858 million to $981 million and revenues rose from $2.9 billion to $3.2 billion. Operating income at Filmed Entertainment fell slightly to $173 million in the quarter from $176 million, even as revenues rose to $2.5 billion from $2.3 billion. The company singled out no single factor as contributing to the mixed results at the studio, but its cable revenues were helped by higher advertising and subscriber revenues.


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