Revenue dipped 6 percent and earnings dropped nearly 250
percent at The Walt Disney Co. in its fiscal fourth quarter, despite a strong performance
by the company's cable networks.
Despite the poor performance -- mainly attributed to high
costs at its broadcast networks -- Disney's cable division was a bright spot.
This marks the first fiscal period for which Disney has
broken out its cable-network performance, and the division didn't disappoint.
Revenue at the cable networks -- which include Disney
Channel and ESPN -- was up 19 percent during the quarter to $769 million, and up 17
percent for the year to $2.8 billion. Operating income at the cable networks was up 76
percent to $224 million in the fourth quarter, and it rose 24 percent for the year to $952
Operating income for Disney's cable equity investments
-- which include stakes in A&E Television Networks, Lifetime Television and E!
Entertainment Television -- was up 23 percent during the quarter and 22 percent for the
year, to $98 million and $480 million, respectively.
"Although we are disappointed with our 1999 results
overall, we are pleased at the tremendous growth of our cable assets and the continuing
strong performance of our theme parks and feature animation," Disney chairman and CEO
Michael Eisner said in a prepared statement.
Overall, revenue for the fourth quarter was $5.8 billion,
down from $6.1 billion a year ago. Earnings after restructuring charges for the period
were $85 million, or 4 cents per share, compared with $296 million (14 cents) in 1998.
Without the restructuring charges -- which related to
severance, lease and other contract-cancellation costs in connection with consolidation at
Disney's broadcasting, television-production and regional entertainment businesses --
earnings would have been 10 cents per share.
For the year, revenue was up 2 percent to $23.4 billion and
net income was $1.3 billion, or 62 cents per share, down 42 percent.