Disney Reports Higher Fourth-Quarter Profits

Company Provides Scant Information on ESPN Affiliate Losses

UPDATE:Disney Weathers the Storm, by Mike Farrell

The Walt Disney Co. reported higher profits in its fourth quarter, driven by big increases at its media networks, but the company's earnings release shed little light on the key question of affiliate losses.

During Disney's previous earnings report, it said a decline in subscribers at ESPN would mean slower than expected growth in distribution revenue. That revelation sent media stocks plummeting.

In its fiscal fourth-quarter release, Disney said affiliate revenue was up, but subscribers were down at certain networks. More detail is expected during the company's conference call with analysts and investors.

Disney said fourth-quarter net income rose 7% to $1.6 billion, or 95 cents a share, from $1.5 billion, or 86 cents a share. Excluding a write-off associated with Euro Disney, earning per share were up 35%. Revenue rose 9% to $13.5 billion.

"We had a strong quarter, with adjusted EPS up 35%, completing our fifth consecutive year of record performance," Disney CEO Bob Iger said. "In fiscal 2015 we delivered the highest revenue, net income and adjusted EPS in the company's history."

Operating income at Disney's Media Networks segment was up 27% to $1.8 billion. Revenue rose 12% to $5.8 billion. Cable network operating income was up 30% to $1.7 billion. The company cited gains at ESPN, and to a lesser extent A+E Networks and the Disney channels.

Read more at broadcastingcable.com.