Wall Street still hasn't come up with the kind of mousetrap that can catch Mickey Mouse, but it's getting close on the blueprints.
Disney (NYSE: DIS ) once again topped Wall Street's profit targets -- something that shareholders have come to expect under CEO Bob Iger -- but the family entertainment giant didn't exactly hit it out of the theme park.
Operating profits mirrored the meager 2% revenue advance. Attendance fell at the company's stateside attractions. The company's studio entertainment division fell way short of last year's high bar. Operating profits at the broadcasting division fell, but it was ultimately saved by the robust performance of Disney's cable properties.
In short, it was a mixed bag.
Reported earnings clocked in at $0.66 a share, but then investors have to back out one-time gains that include the sale of movies.com to Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA ) , the purchase of Disney Stores from Children's Place (Nasdaq: PLCE ) , and a favorable resolution of outstanding tax items. Without that, Disney would have earned just $0.62 a share. It is better than the $0.61-a-share profit that analysts were expecting, but Disney doesn't usually win just by the skin of Goofy's teeth. It's typically been a blowout. Three months ago, Wall Street was looking for a fiscal second-quarter profit of $0.51 a share and Disney delivered $0.58 a share. The quarter before that, it was the media giant turning a profit of $0.63 a share, flying past Mr. Market's $0.52-a-share guesstimate.
Everyone knew that Disney's studio would be roughed up, bumping up against last year's Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. However, did anyone expect attendance at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World to come in lower? Disney faults the shift in the Easter holiday from April in 2007 to March in 2008, but perhaps the assumption that international tourists taking advantage of the falling dollar would offset flagging domestic demand is flawed.
if it figures that it will help offset the stateside weakness.
It probably doesn't help that Nickelodeon parent Viacom (NYSE: VIA ) reported healthier growth this week, actually growing in areas like video games and studio production where Disney took a step back.
This doesn't mean that investors should bail on Disney. The stock is too cheap, priced at just 14 times what analysts believe the company will earn this fiscal year. That may be a higher multiple than what media titans like Viacom, Time Warner (NYSE: TWX ) , and CBS (NYSE: CBS ) are fetching, but Disney remains the undisputed family entertainment giant. If Disney is still managing to inch higher in these trying times, just imagine what it can do when consumers start spending again.
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