* Shares rise 1.7 pct in after-hours trade
* Interactive makes small profit
By Ronald Grover and Sue Zeidler
LOS ANGELES, Feb 5 Media giant Walt Disney Co
posted lower earnings on Tuesday, due in part to the
rising costs of acquiring TV sports rights for its ESPN
Net income fell 6 percent to $1.38 billion from $1.46
billion. Net income per share fell 4 percent to 77 cents a share
from 80 cents a share for the company's fiscal first quarter.
Revenues rose 5 percent to $11.3 billion from $10.78 billion
a year earlier. Wall Street was expecting revenues of $11.2 bln
according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The company said operating income at its cable networks
decreased $15 million to $952 million for the quarter due to a
decrease at ESPN, partially offset by growth at its Disney
Channel, ABC Family and A&E Television Networks.
Overall, Disney's media networks, including ABC, saw
revenues increase by 7 percent to $5.1 billion. Segment
operating income rose 2 percent to $1.2 billion, on the strength
of ad sales at ABC and its TV stations.
ABC has sold out its advertising for the upcoming Academy
Awards on Feb. 24, Disney Chairman and Chief Executive Bob Iger
told analysts on a conference call.
He added that he expected the next "Star Wars" film, to be
directed by JJ Abrams, to be in theaters in the summer of 2015.
The company said its interactive division swung to a profit
of $9 million from a loss of $28 million.
"There were no real suprises, although interactive was
probably what surprised us the most on the upside," said David
Bank, analyst with RBC Capital Markets.
He said that forecasting Disney's media networks profits had
been the most challenging beforehand. "Media networks was the
biggest wildcard," he said.
Disney's shares rose 1.7 percent in after-hours trading.
Before the announcement, Disney shares closed up 39 cents to
$54.29 cents a share on the New YOrk Stock Exchange.