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Disney Stock Pops: What Investors Need to Know

By Tamara Walsh - Apr 8, 2013 at 2:09PM

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How should you play this media stock today?

Shares of Walt Disney (DIS -4.01%) hit an all-time high of $58.22 Monday, and are still rising as of this writing. Just when you thought Disney was becoming too predictable, the media titan threw a surprise twist into the mix. Last week, the company said it would be closing down LucasArts, Lucasfilm's video game division, after Disney acquired Lucasfilm just four months ago for a cool $4 billion. The decision is part of Disney's strategy to transition from game production to a licensing model, according to Bloomberg.

That's not all... Disney is also implementing a cost-cutting initiative that will include layoffs in its studio and consumer products division. Trimming back its expenses should help Disney boost profitability in the quarters ahead. However, with shares of Disney up more than 15% year to date, is it too late for investors to be bullish about the stock's future? Here are a couple reasons why I believe Disney is worth owning into 2014 and beyond.

Big hits on the horizon
Disney's ESPN sports channel continues to be a bright spot for the company. In fact, ESPN makes up about 75% of cable network sales, according to Morningstar. This is particularly impressive considering ESPN is able to successfully increase the amount it charges subscribers. Going forward, this pricing power should help the company offset rising programming costs.

Importantly, Disney remains focused on expanding the reach of its digital content. Earlier this year, Disney reached a multiyear content deal with AT&T that delivers 70 Disney-owned channels to AT&T's U-verse digital network. This and other deals like it will help Disney's content reach more viewers. Together with the strength of its ESPN network and upcoming summer blockbusters, Disney looks poised to continue its rally.

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The Walt Disney Company Stock Quote
The Walt Disney Company
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