Disney Earnings Up - Despite Media Division

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The Walt Disney Co. reported a spike in earnings in its fiscal fourth quarter ended Sept. 30, no thanks to its cable and broadcast networks.

Disney said net income more than quadrupled to $222 million, or 11 cents a share, compared with $53 million, or three cents a share in the year-ago period.

Revenue increased 15 percent to $6.66 billion from $5.79 billion. Adjusted for new accounting rules, last year's fourth quarter would have shown net income of $188 million, or nine cents a share.

"We've ended a fiscal year that has been difficult on many fronts, but we have emerged stronger and better positioned than when it began," Disney chairman Michael Eisner said on a conference cal with analysts Thursday night.

Eisner added he expects operating income growth of 20 percent to 30 percent in fiscal 2003.

The growth in the current fiscal quarter was fueled mainly by Disney's film division, which reported operating income of $149 million in the quarter, compared to an operating loss of $121 million last year.

Disney's Media Networks division, which includes its ABC broadcasting network as well as its cable properties, fared much worse, with operating income declining 60 percent to $147 million in the quarter from $372 million in the previous year. Revenue at the segment was up 6 percent to $2.4 billion.

Disney blamed the poor performance at the Media Networks division on higher sports rights costs because of two additional National Football League games at ESPN and lower advertising revenue at ESPN.

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