Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS ) competes in many different arenas. Some of its multimedia competitors include Time Warner (NYSE: TWX ) and Sony (NYSE: SNE). A few analysts believe Disney doesn't have enough brand firepower to overcome its rivals. Consequently, they have advised investors to sit on the sidelines. However, Disney's massive Star Wars franchise, the continued success of its superhero brands, and the developments at its other franchises all indicate that investors should take a closer look at the company.
Disney's massive franchises
Disney's Star War franchise has amassed a total box office gross of no less than $1.9 billion. As Disney prepares to unleash a wave of new Star Wars content, the company has hired director J.J. Abrams and allowed creative teams ample time to develop its content. The last Star Wars film, Revenge of the Sith, grossed $849 million globally. Disney is assured of success in this segment.
Disney's success with its superhero brands has not shown any sign of ending. The company's Marvel unit has amassed a total box office gross of more than $2.46 billion. Captain America: The Winter Soldier grew its gross by more than 45% over its predecessor. Iron Man 3 increased its gross by more than 30%, while Thor: The Dark World rose by more than 25% over its predecessor. Disney can expect reliable returns from its superhero brands going forward.
The other franchises
All signs point toward continued success for Disney. The company's other outstanding films include Monsters Inc. and Frozen--the release of Frozen recently broke $1 billion in sales.. Disney plans to launch another 11 new titles in 2014. In addition, Disney has slated new titles of National Treasure, Toy Story, and Pirates of the Caribbean for release. These developments are expanding Disney's opportunities.
Time Warner has been forced to pursue interconnected film universes in order to compete effectively with Disney. Its Harry Potter franchise has grossed more than $2.39 billion. The company announced that it has three movies based on Harry Potter in the works. . In the fourth quarter of fiscal 2013, it posted record quarterly revenue of $8.6 billion, up 5% from the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012. The shares of the company have only risen 5% since 2013. Projections call for its earnings to rise by 4% in 2014. With the Harry Potter movies in the works, Time Warner cannot be ignored.
Sony is also working to establish a broader film universe to generate reliable returns. The company and Disney completed a transaction which led to Sony's acquisition of the merchandising rights for Spider-Man films. The first film in the series grossed $752 million globally, and the company has four Spider-Man films under development. In the third quarter of fiscal 2013, its picture segment increased sales by 7.1% on a year-over-year basis to $2.1 billion. Sony hopes its Spider-Man series can match the commercial performances of the offerings from Time Warner and Disney.
Walt Disney's stock has increased from $30 to $80 since July 2011. Despite this increase in valuation, some consider the stock a precarious investment. However, its Star Wars franchise, the enduring profits from its superhero brands, and the amazing possibilities presented by its other franchises indicate that investors should not dismiss the growth possibilities of the company.
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