Disney shares jump after strong 4Q results

AP News
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Posted: Nov 13, 2009 1:47 PM

Shares of the Walt Disney Co. got a boost Friday after the company posted a surprise 18 percent jump in its fiscal fourth-quarter profit and announced an executive job switch that might point to a successor to CEO Robert Iger.

Iger told analysts Thursday he was behind the decision to turn Chief Financial Officer Tom Staggs into the parks and resorts chairman, while making parks Chairman Jay Rasulo the new CFO. The switch was designed to give both a better perspective on the whole company.

Disney's adjusted earnings of 46 cents per share easily surpassed Wall Street's expectations. The quarter's revenue was also higher than expected.

Tony Wible, an analyst at Janney Capital Markets, said the company's results were "generally good," with revenue and margins meeting or exceeding his expectations.

The analyst, who rates Disney "Buy," said strength in the company's media network business more than offset weaker studio and consumer sales.

"(Disney) is seeing improvements in ad rates and content sales, which are helping to offset ratings erosion at ABC," the analyst wrote in a note to investors. "Overall Park attendance was higher and profit margins, with the exception of the Studio business, were generally good across the board."

But, he added, ratings at ABC "continue to struggle," and the economy is still weighing on consumer products and spending at the company's theme parks.

Shares of Burbank, Calif.-based Disney rose $1.21, or 4.2 percent, to $30.26 in afternoon trading. Earlier, the stock hit a 52-week high of $30.50.