Disney’s earnings dip, still top analyst forecasts

BURBANK, Calif. — Disney won over more fans on Wall Street with its latest quarterly performance, despite a slight drop in its earnings.

The downturn announced Tuesday was less pronounced than the modest dip analysts anticipated as Walt Disney Co. digested higher programming costs at its ESPN television network and dealt with a less appealing line-up of theatrical and home video releases in its movie studio. The company offset some of those problems with an advertising upturn at its ABC network and higher spending at its theme parks.

It was good enough to set the stage for Disney’s stock to hit a new high in Wednesday’s trading. The shares gained 96 cents, or nearly 2 percent, cents to $55.25 in Tuesday’s extended trading after the release of the financial results. If the stock reaches that level Wednesday, it would top its previous peak of $54.87, which the shares touched just last week.

Disney earned $1.38 billion, or 77 cents per share, during its fiscal first quarter, a three-month stretch that ended Dec. 29. That compared with net income of $1.46 billion, or 80 cents per share, in the same period in 2011.

Excluding certain charges and one-time gains, Disney said it would have earned 79 cents per share. On that basis, the results exceeded the average estimate of 76 cents per share among analysts surveyed by FactSet.

Revenue climbed 5 percent from the previous year to $11.3 billion — about $130 million above analyst predictions.

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