Part of the Fool's mission is to continue to update investors on the companies they're interested in. As part of that mission to educate, we bring you this series of "Revisited," where we go back to recent SEC filings to dig in deep so you don't have to.
I don't think Walt Disney
Everything else Disney does flows from its portfolio of hit movies and their characters. With that in mind, last year's Pixar buyout and the continued success of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise solidified the entire business.
The Studio Entertainment segment grew revenues by 29% and nearly quadrupled its quarterly operating profit over last year's. That's a transformation from worst to second-best among the four reportable divisions on an operating income basis. Both Pirates and Cars look likely to contribute to the whole food chain for years to come. It's a competitive advantage that rivals like Viacom
We're coming up on the release of the next Pirates installment already, as well as Pixar production Ratatouille and in-house animation effort Meet the Robinsons. The Presidents Day live-action release Bridge to Terabithia got decent reviews and is the fifth-highest grossing movie so far this year, with $92 million worldwide box office.
Ratatouille doesn't strike me as a great idea, but then, neither did Cars or Monsters, Inc. -- two of my favorite kids' movies of all time. We'll see how that works out, but all in all, Disney has a pretty strong spring season on paper. And don't forget that High School Musical on Ice is coming to your town this fall.
I'm still waiting for the entire movie industry -- Disney included -- to fully join the digital age and do away with an antiquated system of distribution and licensing rights. Disney executives have started to see the light, acknowledging piracy as legitimate competition that should be battled with the tools of the free market, such as making high-quality content available in a legal way and at a reasonable cost.
It's starting at the ABC network with ad-supported downloads of hit shows like Lost and Grey's Anatomy, and will eventually work its way up to theatrical-release movies, but the company's current distribution partners clearly don't want to be left out in the cold, and are fighting the bits-and-bytes revolution every step of the way.
Here to stay
Since former CEO Michael Eisner handed over the reins to Bob Iger, a lot has changed at Disney. A rudderless animation department now has strong Pixar leadership, and a formerly micromanaged organization now has serious autonomy in every division, because Iger knows how to delegate responsibility.
It's a company that builds on the strengths of years past, and the rediscovered movie success should lead to great things across the parks, networks, and consumer products for many years. I'm a happy Disney shareholder myself, and I don't see any reason to sell out anytime soon. You won't find shares at much of a discount these days, according to a quick discounted cash flow check, but I'd rather own a great business at a fair price than a shaky one at a huge discount.
See what your fellow Fools think about Disney these days in our Motley Fool CAPS experimental prototype community of investors (EPCOI). Nearly 1,300 players have weighed in on Disney, making it a four-star stock today.
Walt Disney is also a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation, as is Time Warner. Get the lowdown with a free 30-day trial pass to our flagship investing service.
Fool contributor Anders Bylund is a Disney shareholder, converted from old Pixar shares, but holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings if you like, and Foolish disclosure is no Mickey Mouse document.