Not even Mickey Mouse is immune to this recession. But he'll make it through all right.
The star performer in Disney's third quarter was the media networks division. ESPN, ABC, and the Disney Channel collectively held their ground year over year, losing just 2% of their sales. The broadcasting industry is fighting online piracy, reticent advertisers, and worries that TiVo
All told, revenue fell 7% from 2008 levels to $8.6 billion, and net income stopped at $0.51 per share -- 23% below last year's $0.66 per share. Still, that's $954 million of earnings and $881 million in free cash flow, straight into the bank. Disney remains a true cash machine, even at the worst of times.
Disney's strong brands and near-constant stream of fresh, high-quality entertainment content drives this strength. Smaller rivals like DreamWorks Animation
And the upcoming slate of Disney movies inspires confidence. The Princess and the Frog looks like a real return to Disney's Brothers Grimm-style storytelling roots. The star-studded live-action remake of Alice In Wonderland at the hands of real-life Mad Hatter Tim Burton is sure to draw a crowd. And then there's the third installment of the Toy Story saga next year. 'Nuff said.
That should be enough fuel for Disney's fire to go full steam ahead next year. Disney's parks, consumer products, hotels, and nearly everything else depend on strong, fresh stories to keep the brand healthy. Imagine Marvel Entertainment
Walt Disney, DreamWorks Animation SKG, and Marvel Entertainment are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Coca-Cola is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.
Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares in Coca-Cola, Disney, and Marvel, but he holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings or a concise bio if you like. The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.