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Walt Disney Co. Enjoys a Fantastic Year

November 11, 1989|NANCY RIVERA BROOKS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Editor's note: Due to an error in production, a portion of this story was missing in Friday's Times Orange County Edition. It is reprinted here in its entirety.

Boosted by Bambi, four shrunken children and a crush of amusement park visitors, Walt Disney Co. on Thursday reported record revenue and net income for the three months and the fiscal year ended Sept. 30.

Disney Chairman and Chief Executive Michael D. Eisner and President Frank G. Wells attributed the Burbank company's performance to "outstanding results" from all of Disney's business segments: theme parks and resorts, filmed entertainment and consumer products.

Fourth-quarter net income rose 56% to $212.7 million and revenue increased 33% to $1.35 billion. Net income for the fiscal year reached $703.3 million, up 35%, on revenue of $4.6 billion, up 34%.

Pretax operating income jumped 62% to $373.1 million for the quarter and 39% to $1.2 billion for the fiscal year.

Wall Street was not surprised by the record results, said Paul C. Marsh, an analyst with Batemen Eichler, Hill Richards, a brokerage in Los Angeles. "Now we're all sharpening our pencils for the next year," he said.

"There was some concern in the initial part of the year that 'Honey, I Shrunk the Kids' and 'Dead Poets Society' would not measure up to the previous year's slate of films," Marsh said. "The fact is, those films did quite well."

"Honey" and "Dead Poets" have grossed more than $127 million and $93 million, respectively, at the U.S. box office so far this year. The company's "Turner and Hooch" has also performed well, grossing more than $68 million through last weekend.

Disney's theme parks "have had a gang-buster year" and the company's video release of "Bambi" and "Cinderella" was "a prudent marketing ploy and a prudent accounting ploy," he said.

Disney's retail store sales total about $1,100 per square foot--about four times the industry average--compared to $850 per square foot earlier this year, Marsh said. The company expects to operate 41 Disney Stores at the end of the calendar year, up from 13 at the end of 1988, a spokesman for the company said.

Disney's theme parks and resorts recorded a 44% increase in operating income to $240.9 million for the fourth quarter. Revenue rose 25% to $775.8 million.

The filmed entertainment segment had fourth-quarter operating income of $85.9 million, nearly three times the previous year's total. Revenue was up 49% to $462.2 million.

The consumer products segment earned $46.3 million, up 38%, on revenue of $107.3 million, up 27%.

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