On the heels of a last quarter's magical performance, there will be no shortage of morsels in Walt Disney's (NYSE:DIS) upcoming earnings release for investors to feast on. Aside from its iconic namesake brand that encumbers world class theme parks and a resurgence in theatrical production, both of which spawn ample consumer and interactive product sale opportunities, the one business investors will want to keep their eyes on will be its prized Media Networks division.
Tom Murphy, legendary CEO of former Capital Cities/ABC as well as close friend and business associate to Warren Buffett, once lamented in an interview on the superior economics that underlie the broadcasting business. Neither labor nor capital intensive, broadcast television engendered high returns on capital and cash flow so long as one had sufficient scale. Tom road the wave of growth through the golden era of broadcasting to reward his investors, including Buffett, many times over.
Times have certainly changed since Tom bought ABC, with Warren's help, and since the combined business was later acquired by Disney in the mid 90's. The rise of Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), Amazon's (NASDAQ:AMZN) Prime Instant video, and other Internet television distributors have some people wondering whether or not cable even has a future. Despite all of this flux the economics have largely remained intact. Operating profits from both cable and broadcast properties composed a staggering 60% of Disney's total over the trailing twelve months. Needless to say these units also contribute heavily to the company's above average return on equity.
Motley Fool analyst, Mike Finarelli, believes there will always be a path for those who can create and deliver compelling entertainment, and shareholders would be wise to follow. Learn more about this path in the following video.
Mike Finarelli owns shares of Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends Walt Disney, Netflix, and Amazon. The Motley Fool owns shares of Walt Disney, Netflix, and Amazon. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.