Walt Disney ( DIS -1.90% ) has transformed from a legacy company milking its archives to stay afloat to a dynamic content leader. The House of Mouse was built for long-term success. That's a tribute to CEO Robert Iger, who identified that intellectual property (IP) would be key for any company in the content business.
Understanding that has allowed Disney to build a base of IP that the company can leverage no matter how the market changes. It's no longer important to the company how consumers consume content. Whether it's cable, streaming, or holograms send straight to your brain implants at some future date, Disney owns the content that people will spend their discretionary income on.
Iger has given investors a lot of reasons to buy and hold Walt Disney stock. Here are 11 of them (in no particular order).
The Marvel universe generally provides the company with two $1 billion (or more) box office hits each year and another $500 million-plus solid hit. That vast comic book universe has also provided a number of hit shows, theme park attractions, and huge product sales.
2. Disney animation
Animation built the company, and Iger has that division humming along. A film like Frozen not only leads to sequels, it also delivers massive merchandise sales, touring shows, and theme park attractions.
3. Disney World
The company's Florida theme parks set the standard for the industry. The four parks (and two water parks) have grown revenue even as visitor counts have fallen. With the company having a number of new rides planned over the next few years, momentum should continue and revenues should rise.
The streaming service might be new, but it's already off to a strong start. It's soon going to be a default product for any family that has young kids, which should propel it to more than 100 million subscribers.
Pixar might be the only film product that's as sure a bet as Marvel. The brand has shown that it can launch new titles and deliver sequels that outperform their predecessors.
6. Disney Vacation Club
Few companies can offer a timeshare that consumers are actually happy to pay for. Disney has done that with Disney Vacation Club (DVC), its take on that much-maligned concept. DVC locks in revenue by guaranteeing that members will return for a visit each year.
The worldwide leader will struggle as the cable industry changes, but that does not change the fact that it's still the premier brand in sports. Disney will continue to evolve the ESPN model, but it should be able to remain highly valuable, because consumer interest in sports has not lessened.
8. Star Wars
Yes, Solo was disappointing, but that's a rare misstep for the franchise. The Mandalorian has become an instant hit on Disney+, and the ninth film in the core franchise will likely be the biggest film of the year when it's released later this year. In addition, Star Wars has been a huge mover of consumer products, and it has now become a cornerstone of the company's theme park business.
9. The Simpsons
Disney now owns the longest-running comedy in television history. The series has enormous long-term value due to its huge library (which is now on Disney+).
10. A strong dividend
Owning Disney stock makes sense even without a dividend. The fact that the company pays one semi-annually (and should do so for the foreseeable future) makes it even more attractive.
11. The competitive moat
Disney has competitors in all of its businesses, but its treasure trove of IP makes it hard for new entrants to compete. No other company owns the variety of characters and franchises that Walt Disney does. That creates a pretty big barrier for any company attempting to take down the Mouse House.
It's all about characters
Walt Disney started by establishing Mickey Mouse and its classic stable of characters. It has built on that by creating and buying a very diverse array of IP. The company could literally put Ariel, the Little Mermaid, in a movie with Deadpool. It is, of course, not going to do that, but the idea shows just how broad the company's lineup is. Disney has something for everyone -- really more than a few things for everyone -- and that's an advantage that it can exploit for decades to come.