With slightly more than a month left in 2013, Disney (NYSE:DIS) is a surprise leader of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI). The Dow itself has had a great year, gaining 26% when you include dividends, but Disney is up 43%.
This may seem a bit contrary to what's going on in America right now. Consumer confidence fell to 70.4 in November, according to the Conference Board, another sign that folks aren't exactly rushing out to spend money this year. So how can a consumer-focused company with movies, theme parks, and television networks be one of the Dow Jones Industrial Average's top stocks? Let's take a look.
Catering to the top of the market
It's true that most Americans can't afford to go on extravagant vacations this year, but those who can are spending like crazy.
Parks and resorts are Disney's best market this year, with revenue up 9% and operating income up 17% over the past year. This is Disney's second-largest business, behind media networks like ESPN and ABC, and the company has actually been able to raise prices at its theme parks.
This is another example of the dual recovery, with high-end consumers able to take their families to Disney resorts and spend more money in the process.
Stay at home and save some dough
Just because Disney is making money on the top end of consumers doesn't mean it hasn't done well with the broader market as well. Media network revenue was up 5% in the last fiscal year, while consumer products were up 9%, studio entertainment grew 3%, and interactive was up 26%.
Box office and home theater are huge parts of Disney's business, and Marvel and Pixar studios made a significant contribution to the bottom line this year. One of the challenges next year is finding ways to squeeze even more revenue out of the box office, home theater, and networks, which all charge high fees already.
Positioning Disney for growth
Disney has had a great year, but 2014 also presents opportunity. Marvel continues to be the hottest studio around, Disney's streaming strategy is just taking shape, and Lucasfilm's Star Wars Episode VII will begin production. Disney is set up for years of growth and potentially another year outperforming the Dow Jones Industrial Average.