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Business in brief

The Walt Disney Co.‘s quarterly profit fell 26 percent from a year earlier, when it benefited from the sale of a magazine and entertainment channel, but the media conglomerate notched a 9 percent jump in revenue powered by growth in its cable and television division.

For the fiscal first quarter ended Dec. 29, Burbank, Calif.-based Disney reported net income of $1.25 billion, or 63 cents per share, compared with $1.70 billion, or 79 cents per share, in the prior-year period. Still, the results beat Wall Street expectations.

Prior-year results included gains from the company’s sale of its shares in US Weekly magazine and the E! Entertainment channel and the discontinuation of its ABC Radio business.

Excluding the one-time items, earnings grew 29 percent to 63 cents per share from 49 cents in the prior-year period.

Revenue climbed 9 percent to $10.45 billion.

“We’ve started off 2008 with another outstanding quarter, marked by strong creative and operational performances,” Robert Iger, Disney’s chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Microsoft Corp.‘s online advertising researchers will spend this year teaching computers to be smart about sticking ads into video clips, and to be even smarter about targeting ads to specific Web surfers.

Microsoft showed off a handful of early-stage advertising projects at its headquarters Tuesday that may or may not turn up as part of Microsoft’s Web advertising platform.

The demonstrations come just days after Microsoft’s $44.6 billion bid for Yahoo Inc., which, if successful, will boost the software maker’s Web traffic and online ad revenue.

With its 2006 acquisition of aQuantive, the software maker gained a broader network of Web sites on which to sell ads, and tools to help marketers buy them.

Production delays for Boeing Co.‘s 787 are putting a strain on cash flow at a United Technologies Corp. division that spent $200 million last year on research and development for the new widebody jet, an executive said Tuesday.

Boeing announced last month that the inaugural flight of the 787 will be delayed up to another three months, pushing delivery of the first plane into early 2009. It’s the plane’s third delay.

“We have started negotiations with Boeing, talking about the fact that this latest delay especially is going to cause us heartburn from a cash flow” perspective, Greg Hayes, United Technologies’ vice president of finance and accounting, said at a conference in New York.

“It’s been a difficult process because of delays in the aircraft. Obviously, we were disappointed in the first delay last year and the second delay that was just announced,” he said.