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The Walt Disney Company rolls out 2010 Report

The Walt Disney Company has just released an online report that highlight many of the companies accomplishments from 2010. Disney has compiled all the information about (almost) everything that’s happened around the company in the past year in an interactive website. There are stories about each of the different parts of the Company (Studios, ABC, Parks, etc), and each part of the Company also has photo galleries and videos that you can click through. Each of the story sections also contains a small bit of forecasting what to expect in the next few years.

It’s definitely a great place to waste a couple of hours. For those with only a few minutes, I’ve included the full copy of CEO Robert Iger’s letter to shareholders and cast members below the jump:

To the Shareholders and Cast Members of The Walt Disney Company:

At Disney, our exceptional entertainment experiences, widely diverse content and unique skill in managing our businesses in an integrated way allowed us to achieve strong results in 2010 and positioned us well for future growth.

Disney has an incredible array of assets, some of the world’s best known brands, and a culture that since the time of Walt Disney, has embraced technological change and maintained an unwavering commitment to great creativity. When it comes to quality, no name shines more brightly in family entertainment than Disney.

And there’s probably no better example this year of who we are as a company and what we stand for than Toy Story 3, the No. 1 animated movie of all time at the global box office.

Toy Story 3 is at once a gorgeous work of art, a great example of how new technology can make entertainment even more compelling, and a story that speaks to all of us. It shares the DNA of Disney classics like Snow White, Pinocchio and Beauty and the Beast; deeply human stories that appeal to people across cultures and ages and are enjoyed every day the world over.

The beauty of great storytelling is that it can create value for a long time for both consumers and shareholders. And no company but Disney can so consistently write timeless stories and invent from them new entertainment experiences that capture people’s imaginations.

In my five years as CEO of this great Company, we’ve sought to build on Disney’s legacy by focusing on three core strategic priorities: creating great entertainment that people want to experience; using new technology to maximize the quality and reach of that entertainment; and growing our businesses in promising international markets to extend the impact of that entertainment.

These priorities again served us well in 2010. Net income attributable to Disney for the year increased 20 percent to $3.96 billion on a 5 percent rise in revenue to $38 billion. Diluted earnings per share for the year increased 15 percent to $2.03 from $1.76.

This performance is particularly gratifying given the challenging global economic conditions we’ve faced since 2008.

Creatively speaking, we had a banner year. Our movie studio last year was the first in history to make two films that crossed the billion-dollar mark at the global box office — Toy Story 3 and Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, another timeless story made new. The quality of our programming and presentation led to the highest ever fiscal year ratings for ESPN, ABC Family and Disney Channel. And our Parks and Resorts opened World of Color, an amazing water, light and sound spectacle featuring many of our most beloved characters at Disney California Adventure.

This fiscal year is off to a promising start as well. Disney Animation Studios’ marvelous movie Tangled has been a big artistic and commercial success and, with Rapunzel, added a popular new Princess to our royal court. TRON: Legacy has dazzled audiences globally with its unique 3D virtual world. This summer, two of our most important franchise properties are making a highly anticipated return to the silver screen, Cars 2 and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

We also strengthened our creative and brand portfolio with the acquisition of Marvel Entertainment. Just as the 2006 acquisition of Pixar brought us the incredible talented team of artists and writers behind such award-winning and commercially successful films as Ratatouille, Wall-E and Up, Marvel can bring long-lasting value to Disney.

Marvel has world-class artists, a fantastic stable of well-known characters like Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor and Captain America and loyal fans who express their passion every day in much the same way fans of Disney do. With two Marvel epics, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger, coming to theaters in 3D this summer and Marvel TV shows, games, comics and merchandise now flowing through our global marketing and distribution network, we couldn’t be more excited.

Our acquisitions, from Pixar and Club Penguin to Marvel and Playdom, the publisher of social network-based games we bought last August, bolster Disney in many important ways. They add to our ranks of talented artists, engineers and business innovators. They fortify our global brand presence. And they give us new ways to build on our unique capacity to bring great stories and characters to life across our many businesses.

Given these strengths and our global reputation as the world’s leader in high quality family entertainment, we see tremendous opportunity in the shifting dynamics of the global economy. Rapid technological change and the stunning rise of family incomes in countries like China and India mean demand for high-quality entertainment is growing fast while barriers to delivering it directly to consumers are falling quickly.

We’ve responded by making sure we are providing consumers the entertainment they want on the platforms they use most on a well-timed and well-priced basis. This is not only our best defense against piracy; it ensures we are front and center in people’s daily lives. No matter where they are in the world, consumers can easily enjoy great Disney entertainment, whether through traditional television, the Internet or mobile devices.

No part of our Company has taken more advantage of technological change to offer consumers a great experience than ESPN. Jumping off from its expert coverage of the NFL, the NBA, major league baseball, golf, tennis, soccer, cricket — you name it — ESPN has integrated itself purposefully into the wide variety of digital platforms people use to keep informed and entertained. Fans have for years looked to ESPN for authoritative stats, smart commentary and exciting game day coverage. Now, when they want to engage one another, they increasingly do so through

ESPN’s strategy has made the No. 1 sports media brand stronger by weaving it more deeply into the lives of fans; by creating new options for storytelling and ways to work with advertisers; and, critically, by increasing television viewership. Even as ESPN has greatly expanded its digital reach, it posted its highest ever U.S. television ratings last year.

That same validation — record U.S. viewership — was granted to Disney Channel, which is in the midst of expanding original programming at home and abroad. Disney Channel does a fantastic job of staying in touch with what kids and tweens want to see and hear and has become an important incubator of talent and creative ideas for the Company. It’s also become a very effective global ambassador. Last year, Disney Channel increased its international reach further by expanding in Japan, Russia and Ukraine and launching a new joint-venture local language channel in South Korea.

The power of great television content and the strength of our owned stations in cities including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago was demonstrated to us in another way last year when our ABC broadcast network signed multi-year deals with multichannel video programming distributors that recognize the value of its programming through direct payment of affiliate fees. This gives ABC an additional income stream alongside advertising and syndication sales.

Much of the Company’s recent investment activity has been focused on our global network of Disney Theme Parks and Resorts. The parks are where we make the closest emotional connection with consumers as millions of them experience first-hand the magic of Disney every year.

A couple of years ago, we significantly stepped up investment in Disney California Adventure, a park that was underperforming in comparison with its neighbor Disneyland. Our first step was to open World of Color, which combines smart storytelling, technological innovation and brilliant execution in a way that only Disney can.

World of Color has attracted record crowds to California Adventure with a spectacular new form of storytelling that uses stunning digital imagery to bring our characters to life on an ever-changing canvas of light, water, mist and fire. Its success gives us confidence in the rest of the California Adventure expansion, which culminates in 2012 with the opening of Cars Land, a whole new 12-acre land devoted to Lightning McQueen, Mater and their friends.

We’re also really proud of our latest cruise ship, the Disney Dream. It is beautiful in its craftsmanship, uses technology in all kinds of interesting ways to make the passenger experience more enjoyable and features the great service, cuisine and entertainment our guests have come to expect. The addition of the Dream and its sister ship, Fantasy, in 2012, doubles the size of our fleet, allowing Disney Cruise Line to offer more destinations and flexibility to its guests than ever.

Our efforts to open a world-class theme park in Shanghai took another big step forward last November when we reached agreement with our Chinese counterparts on the scope and structure of our new joint venture. As I noted earlier, with 1.3 billion people and increasing affluence, the China market is crucial to our global strategy. We’ve got a number of growing businesses there — in retail, publishing, English-language schools and, of course, Hong Kong Disneyland — but Shanghai Disneyland would enable us to showcase the best of Disney creativity in the heart of China.

Our global Consumer Products business also had an excellent year, posting strong revenue and income growth. The team at Consumer Products has increased the quality and visibility of Disney merchandise through actively managed collaborations with major retailers and manufacturers. By managing key creative franchises like Disney Princess and Cars across merchandise categories and maintaining deep involvement in the design and marketing of goods that carry the Disney name, they’ve really succeeded in building a powerful growth engine.

Their innovative approach extends to retail as well. Last year, we opened 19 newly designed Disney Stores around the world that are terrific showcases for Disney artistry at the community level and have been a big hit with consumers.

We have a deep bench of talented executives at Disney, but we also look to the outside to make sure we have new perspectives and the right expertise in a media environment where conditions are changing constantly and where insurgent companies have much to gain and little to lose. The recently named leadership team at Disney Interactive Media, John Pleasants from Playdom and Jimmy Pitaro, who came to Disney from Yahoo!, is bringing new energy and deep market knowledge to building our digital businesses.

We are investing in our future in other ways as well. Over the last few years, we have focused our charitable programs, strengthened our commitment to preserving the environment and put the weight of our brands and characters behind healthy eating and living. We do this not only because we believe it is the right thing to do, but because it is a critical driver of shareholder value.

Many thousands of talented and motivated people around the world make Disney what it is today. Every day, they bring smiles to the faces of kids and families the world over, create stories that delight millions and deliver with infectious enthusiasm memorable experiences to our guests. I am fortunate to be one of them.

I come to work every day energized by the challenges we face, aware of our potential and certain of how much more we can collectively achieve. As a group, we are tremendously lucky; no one has a better job than we do — to transport people from their everyday lives to worlds that could only be created by Disney.

I remain thankful for your support and for your faith in our abilities and confident that we will do our best every day and in every way to continue exceeding your expectations.

Robert A. Iger
President and Chief Executive Officer
The Walt Disney Company
January 2011

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