It seems only months ago that credit rating agencies were threatening to downgrade Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) if it went through with its proposed acquisition of Disney (NYSE:DIS). From sandbag to free bird, Standard & Poor's is now upgrading Disney's corporate credit rating.

While the tweak may not seem like much -- going from negative to stable -- it's a step in the right direction. However, the timing may at first appear peculiar.

  • Interest rates are rising, spiking the borrowing costs of such leveraged companies as Disney.

  • Just last week CEO Michael Eisner suggested that Disney should hike its dividend, pleasing shareholders but creating an even larger payout burden for the company's cash flow.

  • This past weekend's dismal opening for King Arthur indicates that the company will need to lance a lot to keep pace with last year's theatrical successes.

So, are the S&P folks looking to make creditors more poor than standard? Of course not. S&P knows all about Eisner's words and, yes, it remembers The Alamo. But Disney is humming along nicely with plenty of leeway to overcome plumper yields and box-office duds. An improving economy will make the turnstiles click faster at its theme parks and a healthier advertising market will work wonders for its network business.

While Disney is looking to earn just $0.98 a share this year -- near the $0.97 a share it earned three years ago -- it sees double-digit earnings growth from here on out.

While there are plenty of long-term concerns, like how it will fill the Pixar (NASDAQ:PIXR) void with a skeletal animation crew come 2006 or how the company's recent wave of celluloid turkeys will fare in the home video and DVD market, the near term is encouraging.

Just as significant is that the two live-action movies that may prove to save Disney's summer -- M. Night Shyamalan's classy The Village and the feel-good Princess Diaries 2 -- are still weeks away from their curtain calls.

So give Disney some credit. S&P apparently thinks the company has earned it.

Do you think Disney is really on the mend? Would you spot Eisner a fiver? Do you think Disney's two big summer films will save the celluloid season? All this and more -- in the Disney discussion board. Only on

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares in Disney and Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation Pixar.