Disney Profit Rises Despite ESPN Woes

By Ezequiel MinayaFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Walt Disney Co. reported Tuesday that its beleaguered sports network ESPN once again dragged quarterly results with revenue for its fiscal second quarter coming in below analysts' expectations.

The news could have been worse however, as operating income for the segment that includes ESPN, media networks, retreated 3%, better than the 4.2% decline that was predicted. Operating revenue within the segment contracted for the fifth time in the last six quarters.

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Shares in the media and entertainment giant fell 1.5% in after-hours trading to $110.34.

ESPN, Disney's cable property, has faced well-documented woes: rising costs, declining viewership and the overall cord-cutting trend.

The sports network is a crucial piece of Disney's holdings because it is the most important part of the media networks business, which comprises roughly half of the company's operating income and is bigger than its studio and theme-park units.

About 762,000 subscribers dropped their cable- or satellite-TV service in the first quarter, the industry's worst-ever subscriber losses to start a year and five times higher than the year-earlier period, according to MoffettNathanson.

Overall, Walt Disney reported a second-quarter profit of $2.39 billion, or $1.50 a share, up from $2.14 billion, or $1.30 a share, a year earlier. Stripped of certain items, adjusted earnings were $1.50, up from $1.36 a year ago.

Revenue increased 3% to $13.34 billion.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected earnings of $1.41 a share on revenue of $13.45 billion.

Write to Ezequiel Minaya at ezequiel.minaya@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 09, 2017 16:59 ET (20:59 GMT)