This Is Why Disney Is Winning More Than Just the World Cup


Photo: Disney/ESPN

The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS  ) has been a strong investment for many years thanks to great operations and smart diversification. This has helped the company pull ahead of competitors like DreamWorks Animation (NASDAQ: DWA  ) and Twenty-First Century Fox (NASDAQ: FOX  ) . That diversification, which includes the company's ownership of sports network ESPN, is just one more instance of why Disney continues to win, and will do so long term. Here is how Disney is continuing to win from the World Cup this summer -- just one more reason why this company is a long-term winner. 

Photo: Disney/ESPN

Disney is winning this summer from the World Cup
Disney owns, or is a majority stakeholder in, multiple brands such as A&E, ABC, and, most importantly this summer, ESPN. As Americans are more and more interested in soccer during this World Cup -- which is proven by record viewership numbers -- ESPN continues to gain from this influx of viewers. Each of the three U.S. games have set an ESPN soccer record, starting with the game with Ghana, then Portugal, and finally, the 10.8 million record set by the U.S./Germany game.

Disney, through ESPN, paid $100 million for the broadcasting rights for the 2010 and 2014 World Cup tournament. Once again, Disney made a good bet, as these broadcasting rights continue to bring record viewers to the channel. With soccer viewership on the rise, having increased 22% from the 2006 to 2010 World Cup, this was a smart move for Disney, which has seen the trend continuing to grow. The company is looking to use this World Cup to gain long-term market share for its ESPN network. 

While Disney is winning this summer on its bet with the World Cup, what will happen when the tournament ends? Disney's $100 million investment for this was a steal compared to the nearly $250 million that Twenty-First Century Fox has paid for the same privileges during the next two World Cup events. How will the investment go for Fox? investors will have to wait and see. But Disney is winning on much more than just the World Cup; here's why Disney is a long-term winner far beyond this summer.

Disney is a continuing win on diversification
Disney operates in five major segments: media networks, parks and resorts, studio entertainment, consumer products, and interactive. Disney's main business, media, accounts for 49% of the company's operating portfolio, which has come, in part, from the company owning and growing diversified media networks, such as ESPN. This includes other smart media diversification, such as the purchase of Lucas Films, which Disney is now taking advantage of by creating a new TV series based on the popular Star Wars movies. This is likely to bring a large revenue stream to the company during the next few years.


Revenue diversification means that Disney faces less risk and has more growth opportunities. Source: Disney 2013 10k.

Disney has a winning brand
While these smart operations and subsidiaries are helping Disney to stay diversified and grow from many different sectors, the company itself has incredible long-term brand strength that has kept it dominating the market for decades. Disney ranked No. 14 on Interbrand's 2013 Best Global Brands. This is just for the main Disney brand name, and doesn't include the various subsidiaries such as ESPN and LucasFilms, which it will use to launch Star Wars VII in late 2015.

Disney's brand strength has grown from decades of producing incredibly well-received and profitable movies. While the company still drives revenue from merchandising classics such as Snow White and Aladdin, it certainly is not holding on to past successes. The company's recent hit, Frozen, was the highest-grossing animated film of all time, proving that Disney has what it takes to keep the success and brand growth coming.

DreamWorks CEO speaks on the company's innovation. Hopefully for DreamWorks investors, that innovation pays off soon. Source: DreamWorks Animation.

Unfortunately, for a competitor like DreamWorks, this has not been the case. Shares dropped 11% immediately following How to Train Your Dragon 2 -- it's been a tough few quarters for DreamWorks.

While owning great subsidiaries and having good brand strength are two things that make Disney an exciting bet, what should really please long-term investors is the company's strong financials. Expanding revenue and rising net income have rewarded Disney investors during the last few years, and there's no reason to think that this is stopping anytime soon.

Most of all, Disney is winning on the bottom line
By revenue alone, Disney has outpaced the industry with 47% growth during the last 10 years, and 7% in 2013 alone. Net income is an even more exciting attribute of Disney's strong operations, as the company was able to grow income by 162% during the last 10 years, and 30% during the last year.

Disney is, by far, the largest player in the industry by revenue and market cap, nearly twice as large as the next-largest company, and so far, much more profitable. Disney has proven again and again that it is innovative and growth oriented, regardless of its size. Clearly, the company has been successful at this, which is shown by its strong long-term profitability and continuing market dominance.

Foolish conclusion: Though not cheap, Disney is a long-term winner
For current investors, Disney has been a great growth opportunity. Hold tight -- there's no reason to sell even after the stock has increased. For new investors looking to get in, there are plenty of reasons to believe this stock is still a great long-term play, thanks to its great subsidiary operations, strong brand, and great financial position.

The current P/E ratio of 21 makes the company slightly more expensive than competitors, and the market in aggregate; but that should be expected, as few other companies can show as much value strength as Disney has shown. The World Cup this summer is only one reason to believe that Disney is a winner.

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