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Disney profits up sharply

The Walt Disney Co. says strong growth in its media networks, film studios and theme parks lifted its fiscal second-quarter net profit 22 percent from a year ago.

Disney said Tuesday it earned $1.13 billion, or 58 cents per share, in the quarter ended March 29, compared with $931 million, or 44 cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenue for the period grew 10 percent to $8.71 billion.

The results beat Wall Street estimates. Analysts expected earnings of 51 cents per share on $8.47 billion in revenue, according to Thomson Financial.

Disney shares rose 44 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $33.73 before the results were announced after markets closed.

•Officials for MGM Mirage Inc. said Tuesday the casino company will push ahead with new projects even after first-quarter profit tumbled 30 percent.

The company reported decreases in gambling, room, and food and drink revenue for the quarter ended March 31.

Also weighing on profit were resort opening costs and the Monte Carlo’s temporary closure after a fire that resulted in 17 minor injuries.

The company said earnings dropped to $118.3 million, or 40 cents per share, compared with $168.2 million, or 57 cents per share, in the same quarter a year ago.

Revenue for the world’s second-largest casino company slipped 3 percent, to $1.88 billion from $1.93 billion in the same period in 2007, and fell short of expectations of analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial.

MGM Mirage is moving ahead with plans for the $8.1 billion CityCenter project – six high-rise towers and 6,300 rooms on the Las Vegas Strip – which is expected to open in November 2009. The project is a partnership with Dubai’s government investment fund, Dubai World.

•For the fiscal third quarter ending April 26, Cisco Systems Inc. reports income of $1.77 billion, or 29 cents per share, down 5 percent from $1.87 billion, or 30 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier.

Adjusted earnings of 38 cents per share surpassed Wall Street’s expectations of a profit of 36 cents per share, according to a Thomson Financial poll.

Cisco says its revenue rose 10 percent to $9.79 billion from $8.87 billion, beating analyst projections for $9.75 billion.

•The company nobody doesn’t like posted an 82 percent increase Tuesday in fiscal third-quarter earnings on higher sales prices and the weak dollar, but still-soaring commodity prices limited the gains and disappointed Wall Street.

The maker of Sara Lee breads, Jimmy Dean sausages and Hillshire Farm deli meats, Sara Lee Corp. reported a 10 percent increase in revenue, led by strong international sales, but saw profits pressured by the high costs that have plagued food manufacturers.

The results, including net earnings of $211 million, fell short of analyst estimates and Sara Lee said fiscal 2008 earnings and revenues also would come in below expectations.

Shares in the Downers Grove, Ill.-based company fell 90 cents, or 6.1 percent, to $13.86 – down about 15 percent since the beginning of the year.

Qwest Communications International Inc. reported Tuesday its first-quarter net income fell 35 percent as tax expenses jumped and customers halted service amid the languishing economy and stiff competition.

The Denver-based telecommunication company also took a $45 million charge related to severance costs as 700 employees who primarily worked in support jobs for traditional telephone service took voluntary buyouts.

Its stock fell 6 percent, or 32 cents, to $5.04.

Qwest earned $157 million, or 9 cents per share, in the three months that ended March 31, down from $240 million, or 12 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter.

Overall revenue fell 1.5 percent to $3.40 billion from $3.45 billion in 2007, which the company said was due to increased competition in the long-distance business and to industry consolidation.


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