Disney Profit Hurt by Revenue Decline at ESPN

Operating income fell at all of Disney's business segments in the fourth quarter, with the cable unit continuing to suffer from ESPN subscriber los...
Matthew HellerNovember 14, 2016
Disney Profit Hurt by Revenue Decline at ESPN

Walt Disney Co. reported fourth-quarter earnings that missed analysts’ estimates as operating income declined at all four of its business segments.

The media giant earned $1.10 per share, excluding items, on revenue of $13.1 billion but according to Thomson Reuters, the consensus estimate was earnings of $1.10 per share on revenue of $13.52 billion. Fiscal 2015 included an additional week of operations.

Disney’s media networks segment, its largest source of sales, has been a particular concern of Wall Street as cable subscribers cut the cord and move to cheaper streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu. In the latest quarter, the group’s operating income fell 8% to $1.67 billion while revenue dropped 3% to $5.66 billion.

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The cable division posted operating income of $1.45 billion, down 13% from a year earlier, due to declines at ESPN and the Disney Channel.

Disney said both revenue streams at ESPN fell, with affiliate revenue hurt by a decline in subscribers and advertising revenue hit by a “significant decrease” in advertising for daily fantasy sports leagues. Programming and production costs were higher, reflecting costs for Olympics programming internationally, the World Cup of Hockey rights, and higher contractual rates for college sports.

Elsewhere at the company, studio entertainment revenues increased 2% to $1.8 billion, but operating income decreased $149 million to $381 million as such movies as “Pete’s Dragon” and “Queen of Katwe” underperformed.

In the year-ago quarter, Disney’s box office benefited from the strong performances of “Inside Out,” “Ant-Man,”and “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”

Revenue in the parks and resorts segment rose 1% to $4.39 billion, but that fell short of analysts’ estimates for $4.57 billion and operating income decreased 5% to $699 million. Disney cited lower results at Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, but said results improved at Walt Disney World Resort due to lower costs and increased guest spending.

Disney’s consumer products and interactive group reported operating income of $424 million, which was down 5%. Revenue dropped 17% to $1.29 billion.

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