So what: Shareholders were treated to a blockbuster first-quarter earnings report on Feb. 3 that included 23% profit growth and a 55% spike in operating cash flow. Disney's consumer goods division, which carries the highest profit margin of any of its business segments, posted a 46% jump as Frozen-themed merchandise dominated the holiday shopping season. The results capped a record earnings year for the House of Mouse -- its fourth in a row.
Now what: Investors have good reason to expect another record outing in 2015 and more gains over the years ahead. Disney has a packed slate of movie premieres on the calendar, highlighted by Star Wars: Episode VII launching in December. Management also just announced a second installment in the Frozen franchise that includes the same cast and creative team from the original animated film. Meanwhile, Disney's massive new park in Shanghai is set to boost theme park revenue starting in spring 2016.
Disney's broadcast media business could have the toughest time this year as a drop in advertising spending threatens to pinch profits. Investors can already see evidence of that trend in last quarter's results. The media unit improved profit by just 3%, compared to over 20% for each of Disney's other segments: parks and resorts, consumer products, studio entertainment, and interactive.
But as a long-term shareholder, I'm not too concerned with that soft advertising market. Disney's diverse revenue stream and wide-ranging growth opportunities provide plenty of cushion to offset weak results in any one area of its business.