Media conglomerate and Dow-30 component Walt Disney (DIS – Free Walt Disney stock report) has reported third-quarter results (fiscal year ends September 30th). Share earnings, excluding restructuring impairments, advanced 2%, to $1.03 a share, (merely two pennies short of our estimate), but net income was virtually flat year over year. Revenues, on the other hand, grew 4% during the interim.
Once again, Disney's Parks & Resorts and Media Networks posted the strongest gains for the June quarter. The Consumer Products division also contributed nicely. This helped offset softness at the Studio Entertainment division and Interactive segment (which remained in the red this year).
Last year's hefty investment in Parks & Resorts continued to bear fruit. Higher attendance and increased guest spending (with the help of rising ticket and food prices) boosted totals. Operating income advanced 9% during the period.
Even with higher operating expenses (due to programming and production costs), increased affiliate revenues and better advertising sales (to a lesser extent) spurred results at its Cable Networks. And ESPN helped drive totals. These gains overshadowed softness at its Broadcasting arm and helped Media Networks register an 8% profit advance.
Profits at its Studios fell 36% from a year earlier. Even with the success of Iron Man 3 and Monsters University, Disney registered soft comparisons to the 2012 summer blockbuster The Avengers. Likewise, pre-release marketing costs for The Lone Ranger (which will probably not be recouped in the coming quarter), also weighed on margins.
Better merchandising and licensing revenues lifted its Consumer Products segment. The third quarter included the distribution of its recently-added Star Wars brand. Plus, higher online and comparable-store sales helped retail results.
Looking ahead, we think the Mickey Mouse brand is well positioned for the long haul. Management will likely continue to leverage its content library. Plus, it should keep investing in mobile media, and joint ventures with other distributors (i.e., Hulu) ought to help it maintain a competitive market position. And, in the near term, stock buybacks will probably bolster per-share comparisons.
Even though The Lone Ranger's box office shortfall will likely hurt Studio Entertainment totals in the fourth quarter, this should be partly offset by Disney's other summer releases. Further, we anticipate healthy gains from its Media Networks and Parks & Resorts to enable the conglomerate to end fiscal 2013 on a strong footing.
All told, we are shaving a dime from our full-year fiscal 2013 bottom-line estimate, but we still look for profits to climb 5%-10%, to $3.40. DIS stock was down a bit in pre-market trading on the earnings report.
About The Company: The Walt Disney Company operates Media Networks such as ABC and ESPN, and Studio Entertainment. Its world famous parks and resorts include Disneyland, Walt Disney World (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios), while the company earns royalties from Tokyo Disneyland and manages Disneyland Resort Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland. It also operates a cruise line and Consumer Products and Interactive Media segments. ABC was acquired in February, 1996, Pixar in May, 2006, and Marvel in December, 2009.
At the time of this article’s writing, the author did not have positions in any of the companies mentioned.