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Earnings Rise with Suggestion of New Walt Disney CEO

The Walt Disney Co. has had a surprising 18% increase in fourth-quarter earnings and has announced an executive job switch that may lead to a successor to Chief Executive Robert Iger.

Chief Financial Officer Tom Staggs was turned into the parks and resorts charman by Iger who also decided parks chairman Jay Rasulo would be the new CFO.

Staggs, has been in his current job for 11 years and is respected among Wall Street stock analysts. Rasulo has been pushing an expansion of a Disneyland theme park into China and the construction of two new cruise ships.

The executive changes, occurring January 1st, show that the company is beginning to grow from an ad market that was hit hard during the recession.

Disney’s net income has risen to $895 million, or $0.47 per share, as revenue at its movie, cable and broadcast studio units rose, offsetting the decline from parks and consumer product units. Earnings per share have come to $0.46, beating analyst estimates by a mere five cents.

The overall revenue rose 4% to $9.87 billion in the fiscal fourth quarter ending Oct. 3. Throughout the entire year, revenue has fallen 4% to $36.15 billion and net income fell 25% to $3.31 billion, or $1.76 per share.

After a small fourth-quarter sales uptick, the company is still posting a full-year decline in revenue of 16%, with profits down 84%.

However, with news of the executive shuffle, shares rose 66 cents or 2.3% to $29.71 in after-hours trading Thursday, after closing down 24 cents at $29.05.

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