With the new year within sight, here at the Fool we're taking the opportunity to review how Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) stocks have performed over the past 11 months and where they may be headed. Today I will look at Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) as it rolls toward 2014 and 2015.
Let's start with what analysts expect from the House of Mouse. For the next two quarters analysts expect the company to produce respective earnings of $0.90 per share and $0.92 per share. Those amounts are higher than the $0.77 the company reported in September, but below June 2013 earnings report of $1.01. With Disney recently having released the sequel to the movie Thor, and the holiday shopping season helping to push sales and earnings higher, estimates for the coming earnings reports due in December and March don't seem outrageous. Looking further out, full-year fiscal 2014 estimates have Disney's earnings at $3.93 per share, while the company is expected to make $4.50 per share in 2015.
Why the big jump between 2014 and 2015 earnings estimates? While Disney has a few films scheduled to be released in 2014, the company has a ton of very exciting things planned in 2015.
Marvel is one of the few franchises expected to have big releases in 2014, with Captain America: The Winter Solider due to open on April 4 and Guardians of the Galaxy opening Aug. 1 Many believe the Captain America movie will perform well, but not produce numbers like the second or third editions of the Iron Man series. Guardians, though, is a big question mark. This is a much more obscure name than The Avengers, and Disney has yet to develop the characters in any movies prior to the release of next year's film. Looking at the blockbuster Avengers, all of the primary characters had been on the big screen prior to coming together as a team.
Moving into 2015, the Marvel franchise plans to have The Avengers: Age of Ultron kick things off on May 1, while Ant-Man opens on Nov. 6. After skipping 2014, Pixar will be back with The Good Dinosaur on Nov. 25, 2015. Next year will be the first since 2005 that Pixar has not released a movie. By pushing back the release date of The Good Dinosaur from May 2014, Disney was forced to delay the opening day of the Finding Nemo sequel to June 17, 2016.
Another big event set for 2015 is the expected opening of a Disney theme park in the mainland Chinese city of Shanghai. This will be Disney's second location in China, but the first on the mainland; the other park is in Hong Kong. This should be a great revenue generator for the company for years to come. Additionally, with the Chinese government newly allowing some citizens to have two children, a Disney location that is easily accessible to the country's growing middle class should help drive revenue and promote the Disney brand to the largest market in the world.
Lastly, the long-awaited Star Wars: Episode VII is scheduled to be released on Dec. 18, 2015. Not only will we likely see the movie set box office records, but the merchandise and residual income from the film will certainly last for years to come. Additionally, many have speculated that the film will develop new characters, thus allowing for spinoffs and the continuation of the franchise.
When you sit back and look at the Walt Disney empire as a whole, it may not be clear how all the pieces perfectly fit together, but they all certainly turn in unison and work as a well-oiled machine. Furthermore, the company has augmented the Disney name with a number of other profitable brands, such as Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, ABC, and ESPN, which will allow the company as a whole to grow and prosper even if one or more of the smaller units stumble.
Fool contributor Matt Thalman owns shares of Walt Disney. Check back Monday through Friday as Matt explains what caused the Dow's winners and losers of the day, and every Saturday for a weekly recap. Follow Matt on Twitter @mthalman5513.
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