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3 Things That Disney Must Do in 2012

Disney's (NYSE: DIS  ) had a busy year of erratic box office returns, mixed theme park performances, and another strong showing at ESPN.

What will 2012 bring?

Let's take a look at a few of the things Disney will have to get right if it wants to revisit the multi-year highs it hit earlier in 2011.

1. Disney needs to bounce back in theatrical animation
Mars Needs Moms was a charge-breeding disaster. Cars 2 fared reasonably well at the box office, but it became the first Pixar flick that film critics generally panned.

These two developments will find the industry watching Disney's ticket sales closely to make sure that 2011's letdowns in animation were flukes.

Brave hits theaters in June, and the new original Pixar property will have the entire summer to prove that it's "brave" enough to follow up the critically dissed Cars 2. On the non-Pixar front, Wreck-It Ralph hits a multiplex near you come November. 

Disney can't afford to be asleep at the animator's wheel. DreamWorks Animation (NYSE: DWA  ) is hungry after mixed results with a pair of sequels in 2011. Viacom's (NYSE: VIA  ) Paramount is launching an animation unit, targeting 2014 for its first release.

2. New theme park expansions will have to pan out
Disney World in Florida has had some competition spring up lately. Legoland Florida just opened less than an hour away. Comcast's (Nasdaq: CMCSA  ) Islands of Adventure -- just a few exits away on I-4 -- has been posting huge gains in turnstile clicks since its Harry Potter attraction opened last year.

After years of phoning it in, Disney is making major additions to parks on both coasts. Disney's California Adventure in Anaheim will get the Pixar-themed Cars Land area. In Florida, the first phase of its ambitious Fantasyland expansion opens. Disney better hope that kids want to spend time with princesses instead of sipping butterbeer at Hogwarts or playing with Lego bricks next summer.

3. Apple's new TV better not be too disruptive
Disney and Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) are close. Steve Jobs became Disney's biggest single shareholder after the Pixar acquisition, and Disney has always been a willing player in Apple's digital media endeavors.

However, a rumored component of Apple's 2012 entry into making actual TVs will be a Web-based service where customers can choose which cable stations they want. Disney has carved a cozy living with ESPN included in most cable packages, even if subscribers don't care for sports. It has also been able to wedge a bundle of lightly watched kid channels with its namesake Disney Channel. If consumers can actually cherry-pick the channels they want, cable networks won't be happy.

Consumers will love it, of course.

If you like to stay on top of what happens next -- and I'm guessing you do because you're reading this article -- how about checking out Motley Fool's top stock for 2012? Spoiler alert: It's not Disney. However, it is a free report, but only for a limited time so check it out now.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz calls them as he sees them. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story, except for Disney. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of DreamWorks Animation SKG, Apple, and Walt Disney. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (4) | Recommend This Article (2)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2011, at 8:04 PM, DividendsBoom wrote:

    ...a meaningful dividend, paid quarterly would be nice as well

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2011, at 4:25 AM, clbjblk wrote:

    The stock might look good back when we were kids with 3 channels on tv but have been there many times and when you wait in line for an hour to go on a ride and it is your families turn to get on the ride and just before you get on they let people cut or jump in front of you because they paid more it makes that ride wait for an hour hard to tell your children why the other people get to go first,I like the fools but I got rid of my Micky stock even though disney showed how much there policy is greed,I wonder the next time they go out to or whatever as long as they have more money they can learn to look down at others as Micky teaches or if they got that greed lets you treat others anyway you want. I am no tree hugger but I think my children learn more respect at a state or federal park so they don,t have to pay so much to see the real MICKY MOUSE! I am glad that that made them learn the value of life when can you get Santa Claus stock?

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2011, at 4:29 AM, clbjblk wrote:

    Wish they could have got that on film for there film film critics,the last comment is so true and would be a good start.

  • Report this Comment On January 02, 2012, at 10:22 PM, jingjinok wrote:

    you are invited to this special message from....

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