Disney Profit Rises 40% in First Quarter

Times Staff Writer

Walt Disney Co., riding the crest of a big box-office hit and improved results throughout its divisions, reported a 40% increase in net income from continuing operations for the three months ended Dec. 31.

Disney said its fiscal first-quarter net income rose to $100.4 million, compared to $71.8 million a year earlier, excluding the results of Arvida Corp., the real estate development company sold during the fourth quarter. If the Arvida results had been included, the comparative net income would be $89.8 million, indicating a 12% increase in year-to-year results.

The giant entertainment company credited a recent movie, "Three Men and a Baby," for some of the gain, noting that moviegoers have spent $114 million on the film at the box office since Thanksgiving to make the comedy the highest-grossing movie in Disney history. About $59 million of the film's box-office revenue was generated during the first quarter.

Theme Parks' Income Up

Disney also cited the Christmas release of the animated classic "Lady and the Tramp" on videocassettes as a contributing factor. Pretax operating income for the entire Filmed Entertainment Group rose 7% to $57.5 million, while revenue rose 14% to $297.8 million.

The company noted that the first-quarter results in the Filmed Entertainment Group a year ago benefited from the first-time syndication of two large groups of Disney feature films and television programming. Operating income in the Theme Parks Group increased 12% to nearly $87 million, compared to $77.5 million a year ago. Revenue for the group increased 7% to $385.7 million.

In the Consumer Products Group, operating income rose 33% to $31.1 million, compared to $23.4 million a year earlier. Revenue increased 29% to $51.1 million.

Burbank-based Disney said its general and administrative expenses rose 39% to $20.4 million, but its interest expense declined 37% to $4.4 million. The company said it received $11.2 million in investment and interest income, up sharply from $2.1 million a year ago.

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