The Walt Disney Company Earnings Cheat Sheet: Rising Revenue Helps Margins Expand, Profit Rises

S&P 500 (NYSE:SPY) component The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) reported net income above Wall Street’s expectations for the fourth quarter. Walt Disney is an entertainment company with operations in: media networks, parks and resorts, studio entertainment, and consumer products.

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The Walt Disney Company Earnings Cheat Sheet for the Fourth Quarter

Results: Net income for the entertainment company rose to $1.09 billion (58 cents per share) vs. $835 million (43 cents per share) in the same quarter a year earlier. This marks a rise of 30.2% from the year earlier quarter.

Revenue: Rose 7% to $10.43 billion from the year earlier quarter.

Actual vs. Wall St. Expectations: DIS beat the mean analyst estimate of 55 cents per share. Analysts were expecting revenue of $10.36 billion.

Quoting Management: “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,” said Disney President and CEO Robert A. Iger. “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.”

Key Stats:

Revenue has risen the past four quarters. Revenue increased 6.7% to $10.68 billion in the third quarter. The figure rose 5.8% in the second quarter from the year earlier and climbed 10% in the first quarter from the year-ago quarter.

The company has now beaten estimates the last two quarters. In the third quarter, it topped expectations with net income of 78 cents versus a mean estimate of net income of 73 cents per share.

Net income has increased 17.5% year over year on average across the last five quarters. The biggest gain came in the first quarter, when income climbed 54.3% from the year earlier quarter.

Gross margins grew 2.3 percentage points to 17.9%. The growth seemed to be driven by increased revenue, as the figure rose 7% from the year earlier quarter while costs rose 4.1%.

Looking Forward: Over the past ninety days, the average estimate for the first quarter of the next fiscal year has fallen from 73 cents per share to 71 cents, indicating that analysts are growing pessisimistic about the company’s performance next quarter. The average estimate for the fiscal year is $2.50 per share, down from $2.56 ninety days ago.

Competitors to Watch: CBS Corporation (NYSE:CBS), News Corporation (NASDAQ:NWSA), Time Warner Inc. (NYSE:TWX), Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA), Journal Communications, Inc. (NYSE:JRN), Cumulus Media Inc. (NASDAQ:CMLS), Scripps Networks Interactive, Inc. (NYSE:SNI), Entravision Communication (NYSE:EVC), and Entercom Communications Corp. (NYSE:ETM).

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(Company fundamentals provided by Xignite Financials. Earnings estimates provided by Zacks)