Walt Disney Company (The) (DIS)

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The Walt Disney Company (DIS)

F4Q09 Earnings Call

November 12, 2009 4:30 pm ET


Lowell Singer - Senior Vice President, Investor Relations

Robert A. Iger - President, Chief Executive Officer, Director

Thomas O. Staggs - Chief Financial Officer, Senior Executive Vice President


Doug Mitchelson - Deutsche Bank

Jessica Reif-Cohen - Banc of America Merrill Lynch

Spencer Wang - Credit Suisse

Scott Davis - J.P. Morgan

Michael Morris - UBS

Jason Bazinet - Citigroup

Michael Nathanson - Sanford C. Bernstein

Benjamin Swinburne - Morgan Stanley

David Miller - Caris & Company

Tuna Amobi - Standard Import Group

Doug Creutz - Cowen & Company



Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the fiscal full year and fourth quarter earnings conference call. (Operator Instructions) I would now like to turn the conference over to your host for today, Mr. Lowell Singer, Senior Vice President of Investor Relations for the Walt Disney Company. Please proceed.

Lowell Singer

Thank, Brittany. Good afternoon, everyone and welcome to the Walt Disney Company's fourth quarter 2009 earnings call. Our press release was issued a few minutes ago. It’s now available on our website at www.disney.com/investors. Today’s call is also being webcast and that webcast will be available on our website, as will a replay and transcript of today’s remarks.

Joining me in Burbank for today’s call are Bob Iger, Disney’s President and Chief Executive Officer; and for his 46th and as it turns out final earnings call as Chief Financial Officer, Tom Staggs. As I am sure you saw, Bob made an important executive announcement this morning. He is going to begin with some comments about that announcement, and then Bob and Tom will speak about earnings and then we will of course be happy to take your questions.

So with that, let me turn the call over to Bob and we will get started.

Robert A. Iger

Thank you, Lowell and good afternoon. As you know, we announced earlier today that on January 1st, Tom Staggs will assume the role of Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, while Jay Rizzulo, who currently holds that position, will become Senior Executive Vice President and Disney’s Chief Financial Officer. Jay and Tom are dynamic, experienced and versatile executives who have each been at Disney for around 20 years. They know and understand the company and its brands intimately and are very effective leaders whose background are for the new roles.

Since I have been CEO, they have been a critical part of the team helping implement the strategy that has led to our success. They are also ready for some exciting new challenges that will benefit both them and our company.

Tom, I think you would all agree, is one of the best CFOs around and over the last decade, he has worked closely with me, guiding the company strategically and has played a big part in everything from the Pixar and Marvel acquisitions to reconfiguring our management incentive system to helping ensure our team does the best possible job for its shareholders.

Throughout, he has done a great job of making sure our capital is put to the wisest possible use for long-term growth, as well as managing costs across the company. He has also played a key role in managing the Disney brand and leading a very successful implementation of our company-wide healthy food and environmental policies.

Jay has had a great success, he has great business skills and instincts and substantial creative experience as well. Under his leadership, the Disney park experience is reaching more people than ever before while enhancing its well-deserved reputation for quality. Even while overseeing major expansions at Anaheim and Hong Kong, Jay has done a fantastic job over the last seven years of taking our parks and resorts business beyond the theme park gates, as we have built up our cruise line, vacation club, and family tour businesses.

He has also successfully position our parks during the economic downturn through some really innovative marketing and smart management. Jay has also led our Shanghai park development efforts and we are very proud of the work he and his team have done.

From my perspective, it’s incredibly valuable to a corporation like Disney to have executives gain experience in various parts of the organization. It gives them a new set of challenges, new perspectives, and a great opportunity for continued growth. Over the longer term, the practice of motivating and developing executives by providing new or expanded opportunities will help us attract and retain talented people and will serve the company well.

Given that he has been CFO for over a decade, I know you will miss Tom, as many of you can attest, Tom has done a great job providing information and perspective that has served both investors and the company well and I know that Jay will continue in the tradition Tom has established, serving us all equally well. I am really excited about continuing to collaborate with Jay and Tom in their new roles and feel these steps strengthen a management team that is already the best in the business.

Now I would like to turn to our earnings -- over the last 18 months, I have spoken to you about how we have sought to maintain our strategic focus while reshaping the company to both withstand the weak economy and to tackle the many challenges facing our businesses.

We believe we have delivered on those objectives, putting Disney in a strong competitive position while enhancing the company’s ability to deliver long-term value to shareholders.

For the quarter, our earnings improved over a year ago largely due to the performance of our media networks. While there are some signs of recovery, the environment remains challenging and we are managing accordingly. Tom will speak in detail about our financial performance but I wanted to highlight a few of the steps we have taken to advance our fundamental strategic goals of building on our position as a leader in the creation of high quality branded content, of using technology to make that content more compelling and to reach more consumers in more ways, and at making Disney an even more prominent provider of entertainment globally.

Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com