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Disney earnings fall partly due to 'Millionaire' lawsuit charges

February 05, 2013|By Dawn C. Chmielewski
  • Walt Disney Co. reported lower earnings for the fourth quarter of 2012.
Walt Disney Co. reported lower earnings for the fourth quarter of 2012. (walt disney Corp. )

Walt Disney Co. reported a 6% drop in first-quarter earnings, compared with a year ago, in part because of charges associated with its high-profile dispute with the creator of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" and a decline in operating income at the film studio.

The Burbank entertainment giant reported net income of $1.4 billion, or 77 cents a share, for the quarter ending Dec. 29, down from $1.5 billion over the same period in 2011.

Revenue for the first quarter rose 5% to $11.3 billion.

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Quarterly results were dragged down by $321 million in charges related to legal dispute with the producer of the popular ABC game show "Who Wants to be a Millionaire."  A federal jury in 2010 ordered Disney to pay Celador International, the British company that created the game show, $269.4 million in damages over its accounting practices, along with $50 million in pre-judgment interest.

Disney's results also included a $219-million gain from the sale of its 50% interest in ESPN Star sports in India to its joint venture partner, News Corp.

Operating income for Disney's media networks group, which includes the ABC network, local television stations and cable networks such as ABC Family and Disney Channels, rose 2% to $1.2 billion. Revenue for the first quarter reached $5.1 billion, up 7% from the comparable quarter.

Parks and resorts reported operating income of $577 million, a gain of 4% from 2011. Revenue climbed 7% to $3.4 billion, because of increased guest spending at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando and Disneyland Resort in Anaheim. 

The film studio's quarterly operating income fell 43% to $234 million, compared with a year ago. Revenue fell 5% to $1.5 billion.

The troubled Interactive media group posted its first quarterly profit -- of $9 million -- compared with a loss of $28 million in the fourth quarter of 2011. Revenue was up 4% in the quarter to $291 million.


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