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February 11, 2010

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Disney waits for boost

CONSUMERS sent tepid signals to The Walt Disney Co during the holiday quarter, as many of them still required discounts to step into theme parks and reduced spending on food, beverages and merchandise when they got there.

A nascent advertising recovery also had an uneven effect on the company, as ESPN benefited from higher ad revenue, while the ABC broadcast network suffered from fewer viewers and lower advertising rates. The Disney Channel, which doesn't run commercials, saw fees from cable and satellite operators grow.

"At this point we have limited visibility regarding the economy and its impact on our businesses," Chief Executive Bob Iger said on a conference call. "Thus we will continue to focus on controlling costs while creating great content and experiences and building our brands."

Disney is closely tethered to consumer confidence. Its theme parks, stores and movies are a good barometer of how freely people are spending their extra cash.

Disney said it earned US$844 million in its fiscal first quarter, which ended on January 2, roughly flat compared with a year earlier. Revenue rose 1 percent to US$9.74 billion.


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