Higher attendance a theme for Disney

ORLANDO -- Walt Disney Co. said higher guest spending and more visits to Walt Disney World Resort and the Disneyland Resort fueled fourth-quarter 2002 results at the company's Parks and Resorts unit.

Revenue for Parks and Resorts for the fourth quarter was $1.5 billion, an 8% increase over fourth-quarter 2001. In the year-ago quarter, however, cancellations and deferred travel was rampant because of the post-Sept. 11 atmosphere.

At Walt Disney World, increased guest spending reflected ticket price hikes implemented a year earlier and higher attendance by international and domestic tourists, both of whom spend more than local visitors.

Reductions in special ticketing and promotions also fueled guest spending at Walt Disney World and Disneyland.

Results for Walt Disney Co. were impacted by an after-tax charge of $83 million -- or $0.04 cents per share -- for the write off of its $114 million investment in aircraft leveraged leases with United. Disney said it didn't believe that it would recover the investment because of United's bankruptcy filing.

Meanwhile, Disney still has another $175 million tied into aircraft lease investments with Delta and FedEx.

For the quarter, Disney's revenue increased 6% to $7.5 billion, and net income and earnings per share were $256 million (versus $438 million in fourth-quarter 2001) and $0.13 (versus $0.21), respectively.

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