What's it like being a shareholder of Disney
That was then, this is now. Who dares to be a bear on the mighty Mouse? Look -- Disney just plain stunk for a long while, but I truly believe that the best is yet to come. Several recent developments make me want to remain a member of the M-I-C-K-E-Y-M-O-U-S-E club for a good long time to come.
All hail King Content!
They say content is king, and arguably nothing is more regal than the library of Disney animated films. Add to that a wonderfully valuable slate of live-action films from Touchstone and Miramax, and you've got one hell of a portfolio. Properties like Bambi, Cinderella, Armageddon, and Pirates of the Caribbean have raked in millions at multiplexes and on home video, not to mention fueling a valuable consumer-products segment. Time Warner
Are you going to bet against Disney as the entertainment industry heads into a new age of digital distribution? With upcoming evolutions in disc formats (Blu-ray and HD-DVD) and all kinds of schemes for nascent broadband distributional channels hatching around us, a content player like Disney will see ample opportunity to sell its stories to millions of consumers over and over again.
ABC: A bunch of cabbage
Speaking of content, have you noticed how things have turned around at the ABC network? Remember the bad old days when the misguided saturation of a certain Regis Philbin quiz show screwed everything up? Yeah, I'm blocking that out, too. ABC is once again a network force to be reckoned with. Even in a tough arena that includes CBS
How about some numbers? According to the latest annual report, the media-networks segment saw revenue advances of 12% and 8% for 2005 and 2004, respectively; for the same respective fiscal years, the operating income increases were 27% and 79%. Eyeballs across the nation are transfixed by the alphabet network; viewers are likewise seduced by incredibly popular cable assets like Disney Channel and ESPN, the latter an addictive drug for sports nuts. Things are going quite splendidly here.
I'm going to Disney World!
I've only been to Disney World once in my life. That's okay, though, because a lot of you out there have been going, and that's been good for Disney's bottom line.
Parks and resorts booked a 16% increase in revenues for 2005, down slightly from the 21% increase observed in 2004. Operating income might have expanded a meager 5% in 2005, but come on, that's on top of the 17% increase that the segment achieved in 2004. (You can thank the anniversary promotion for part of this monetary magic.) Parents love sharing the Disney experience with their kids, and kids make return visits when they grow up, often with offspring of their own. It's a wonderful cycle.
The Pixar acquisition
What can I say about this one? I expect great things from Disney's buyout of the name in computer-animated storytelling. Though I still believe that Disney could have survived without Pixar, I nevertheless recognize a nice deal when I see it.
Cars had a strong opening; sure, it was weaker than expected at $60 million, but the summer is young. With the profits from that pic set to roll in from both the theaters and the holiday DVD release, and with Ratatouille coming out next year, Pixar should be delivering value for a long time to come. (Oh, and did I mention Toy Story 3?)
A bull with mouse ears
Disney is in a great position. Management is expecting double-digit earnings growth this year, the company's assets have gained momentum, and its stock is starting to regain some vigor. Better still, the dividend has been hiked nicely the last couple years after a stagnant period. Content is king -- and so is Disney.
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