Walt Disney Productions said yesterday profit soared 257 percent to $32.2 million in the first quarter of fiscal 1985 from $9 million a year earlier, thanks largely to its new Arvida land-development subsidiary, the box-office success of "Splash" in foreign countries and the Christmastime re-issue of "Pinocchio."
Burlington Northern reported higher earnings for its fourth quarter, while Aluminum Co. of America and Caterpillar Tractor Inc. posted losses for the quarter and the year, respectively.
The huge leap in Disney profit reached the highest first-quarter level in company history.
Profit in the three months ended Dec. 31 amounted to 95 cents a share, compared with 26 cents in the first quarter of fiscal 1984. Revenue rose 41 percent to $426.5 million from $302.2 million a year earlier.
The first-quarter profit was a sharp turnaround from the previous quarter when Disney wrote off $166 million in film investments and posted a $64 million loss.
Michael D. Eisner, chairman and chief executive and Frank Wells, president and chief operating officer, said in a joint statement another reason for the jump in profit is that the Arvida real estate development company's profit was not included in corporate results until the second quarter of last year.
They also cited improved operating results for the two-year-old Disney Channel, Disney Home Video and Walt Disney World amusement park in Orlando, Fla. Disney Channel has yet to turn a profit but is expected to reach the break-even point by mid-1985.
Caterpillar Tractor Co. said it lost $428 million in 1984, its biggest annual loss and its third in a row.
The world's leading maker of heavy construction equipment said the loss included sizable one-time charges due to layoffs, plant closings or consolidations and other changes made in Caterpillar's struggle to return to profitability.
The 1984 loss contrasted with a loss of $325 million in 1983. Sales rose to $6.58 billion from $5.42 billion in 1983.
In the fourth quarter, Caterpillar posted a loss of $251 million, compared with a loss of $11 million a year earlier. Sales dipped to $1.66 billion from $1.7 billion.
Burlington Northern Inc., which operates the nation's largest railroad, said it had a 16.7 percent profit gain in the fourth quarter as its revenue rose 88 percent.
The company reported a fourth-quarter profit of $132.8 million ($1.55 per share), compared with earnings of $113.6 million ($1.47). Revenue rose to $2.2 billion from $1.2 billion.
Net income for all of 1984 increased by 47 percent to $608.1 million ($7.15), from $413.2 million ($5.40) in 1983. Revenue rose to $9.1 billion from $4.5 billion in 1983.
Aluminum Co. of America posted a fourth-quarter loss of $14.7 million, including one-time writedowns for a closed bauxite refinery, an uncompleted smelter hotline and several other items.
The unusual charges cut the company's earnings for the quarter by a total of $51.2 million, Alcoa said. It had posted a profit of $96.2 million ($1.19) in the fourth quarter of 1983.
Revenue for the quarter fell 5.4 percent to $1.39 billion from $1.47 billion a year earlier.
For the year, Alcoa said its profit rose 47 percent to $256 million ($3.13) from $174.2 million ($2.15) a year earlier. Revenue rose 9.3 percent to $5.75 billion from $5.26 billion in 1983.