Will Disney Crush It?

Will Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) have a better year at the box office? We'll know more when the House of Mouse reports fiscal first-quarter earnings after the bell today. Here's a closer look at what analysts expect:

Metric

Q1 2012 (est.)

Q1 2011

Estimated Growth

Revenue $11.18 billion $1.41 billion 4.4%
Earning Per Share $0.72 $0.68 5.9%

Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Analysts aren't expecting much growth compared to last year, when Disney beat estimates by $0.12 a share in producing 54% growth in per-share profit. And for good reason: Disney's animated flicks didn't perform nearly as well in 2011 as in prior years.

Not that rival DreamWorks Animation (NYSE: DWA  ) did much better. Quarterly revenue is expected to drop 20% when the company reports earnings on Feb. 28. But Disney isn't suffering from an industry-wide trend. Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX  ) Warner Bros. studios trailed only Paramount on last year's 2011 box office chart, grossing $1.83 billion domestically from 38 theatrical releases according to Box Office Mojo. Full-year earnings are expected to improve 17% as a result.

3 more things to watch
Of course, we're about more than just numbers here at The Motley Fool. As business-focused investors we're also interested in strategy and company initiatives. Here are three things I'm particularly hoping to hear more about:

  • Super Bowl blitz. Marvel's The Avengers scored highest in a USA Today-Facebook survey of Super Bowl trailers. John Carter, another would-be Disney epic, scored lowest. What does management expect from its studio operations this year? What's in the pipeline?
  • Still the happiest place on Earth? While our own visit to Disneyland in December impressed on many levels, competition is heating up among theme parks. In particular, Comcast's (Nasdaq: CMCSA  ) big bet on the Harry Potter franchise could take a toll on the Disney World gate. How is the House of Mouse responding? What can we expect from expansion efforts?
  • The terrible tube. Growing interest in on-demand television programming could hurt ad rates for the company's ABC and ESPN networks. What trends is management seeing? What it can do to keep rates stable?

Those are my questions. Now it's your turn to weigh in. What do you expect to hear from Disney this afternoon? How are you investing in Hollywood stocks? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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Add Walt Disney to My Watchlist for up-to-the-minute Foolish coverage of the stock and your entire portfolio.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of Time Warner and Walt Disney at the time of publication. Check out Tim's Web home, portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Google+ or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.

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