Walt Disney Company yesterday posted results for its financial third quarter which beat analysts’ expectations.

The media mammoth reported revenues of $6 billion, a fall of 1% but ahead of its $5.8bn forecast, while operating income dropped 7% to $1.1bn. Earnings per share totalled 23 cents, flat on last year but ahead of Wall Street estimates of 21 cents.

The ad downturn, combined with lower viewing figures and rising production costs, hit its media networks division, where operating income tumbled 29% to $470 million and revenues fell 6% to $2.1bn. Disney added that it has yet to see any sign of an improvement in the ad market.

The unit’s year-on-year performance was not helped by the waning popularity of Who Wants to be a Millionaire, a huge success for its ABC television network last year but, Disney admitted, only initially.

Low visitor numbers at the group’s theme parks resulted in revenues of $1.9bn, flat compared with last year, with operating income dropping 1% to $560m.

“In a soft economy, Disney’s overall performance continues to be solid,” commented chief executive Michael Eisner. “At our parks, effective expense-management measures have largely compensated for the weaker attendance than we had anticipated.”

Meanwhile, its movie studios saw revenues rise 8% to $1.3bn on the back of film successes such as Bridget Jones and Spy Kids, with operating income leaping to $65m from last year’s $1m loss.

News source: Financial Times