Consumers shy away from Disney's parks
LOS ANGELES --- Consumers sent tepid signals to The Walt Disney Co. during the holiday quarter, as many of them still required discounts to step into theme parks and reduced spending on food, beverages and merchandise when they got there.
A nascent advertising recovery also had an uneven effect on the company, as ESPN and the Disney Channel benefited from higher ad revenue, while the ABC broadcast network suffered from fewer viewers and lower advertising rates.
Disney is closely tethered to consumer confidence because its theme parks, stores and movies are a good barometer of how freely people are spending their extra cash.
Disney said it earned $844 million in the fiscal first quarter, which ended Jan. 2, roughly flat compared with a year earlier. Revenue rose 1 percent to $9.74 billion. Although both measures beat analyst forecasts, shares rose less than 1 percent in after-hours trading.
McDonald's overseas sales offset domestic
NEW YORK --- McDonald's Inc., the world's largest fast-food chain, said Tuesday that a key sales comparison rose 2.6 percent in January, as strong overseas sales more than offset a decline in the U.S.
McDonald's has generally fared well in the recession as customers turned to it for cheap meals, but it has started to feel the pinch in recent months as consumers have contended with high unemployment.
Sales in stores open at least 13 months fell 0.7 percent in the U.S. but rose 4.3 percent in Europe, Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa.
In other news
STANDARD & POOR'S Ratings Services on Tuesday cut its outlook on Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp. to "negative" from "stable," saying bond holders could take a hit if the government steps in to support banks. The negative outlook signals a possible future downgrade.