Disney reports magical 2011 earnings  Though it was one of the last major players in the business world to unveil its quarterly financial results, Disney did not disappoint. As a matter of fact, the world's biggest theme park operator dazzled with magical results founder Walt would be proud of.

The Burbank, California-based media titan announced its quarterly earnings this week, on the heels of positive reports from Viacom and Time Warner, two of its rivals in the cable television space. Disney's fourth fiscal quarter ended September 30, and the company reported a 7 percent jump in revenue compared to the same period in 2010.

Moreover, officials said operating income climbed 23 percent compared to last year, and that net income rose 30 percent. Investors were impressed by the exceedingly strong report, especially as some had projected the company would miss expectations, given a tepid economy and sinking consumer confidence.

However, Disney managed to avoid the fate of some of its peers. Bloomberg reports the firm's 30 percent surge in profits handily beat the consensus estimate among analysts. Like Viacom, Disney benefited from higher fees from its pay-TV customers. Its advertising revenue also jumped during the quarter, fueled by the strength of its television networks, which include ABC, its branded Disney Channel and ESPN.

ESPN's performance was especially strong, as viewership increased by more than 13 percent in the quarter. Its theme parks also reported brisk business, as higher ticket prices and new attractions helped to drive robust attendance levels, company officials said.

"Fiscal 2011 was a great year financially and strategically, demonstrating the strength of our brands and businesses with record revenue, net income and earnings per share," Disney chief executive Bob Iger said in a statement. "We are confident the Company is well-positioned to deliver long-term value for our shareholders with our focus on quality content, compelling uses of technology and global asset growth."

Disney has been a perennial powerhouse since it went public. Though the company sputtered at the end of former chief executive Michael Eisner's tenure, it has thrived under Iger, even amid the effects of a significant global economic contraction.

The company also released its year fiscal results this week. For the full fiscal 2011 year, Disney reported that revenue at its parks and resorts climbed 10 percent to $11.8 billion. In the fourth quarter, revenue grew by a slightly higher 11 percent, hitting $3.1 billion. The company's Hong Kong Disneyland Resort performed well, according to Iger, as more visitors flocked to the park.

Investors said Disney's earnings were strong, especially as all of its major divisions delivered upbeat reports.

"You had solid results in all of the segments that really matter," Janney Montgomery Scott analyst Tony Wible said. "The underlying trends look fairly healthy in the two most important segments - media networks and parks."

Nevertheless, Disney did report that its studio entertainment revenues fell by 5 percent in 2011, dropping to $6.4 billion. The company said it failed to implement business cost reductions in the segment, and that higher technology infrastructure spending ate into the division's profit margin. The company expects the investment in technological equipment will help drive growth in the future, however, and it is bullish on 2012, as analysts said its movie lineup is stronger than this year's.
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