The market's getting ugly again on Wednesday, and that's bringing down red and blue chips alike. All 30 of the Dow Jones Industrial Average components were trading lower a few hours into the trading day, and naturally that also means that The Walt Disney Company (DIS 3.30%) is taking it on the chin again.
The media giant is looking at its lowest close in nearly a year barring a last-minute rally, but it's hard to call the past 12 months a lost year for Disney. After all, fiscal 2015 delivered another year of growth on both ends of the income statement. Income investors were treated to yet another dividend hike. There was also a little thing called Star Wars: The Force Awakens that lit up the multiplex last month.
These encouraging nuggets may not seem like much of a consolation prize. The stock's tanking. ESPN subscribers are cutting the cord. The strong U.S. dollar could eat into the affordability of its theme parks to international visitors.
Disney isn't perfect, but the situation isn't as bad as the stock chart would seem to suggest. Let's take a look at some of the things that could drive Disney stock higher this year after a rough first few trading days.
1. Cheap gas is good for Mickey Mouse
There are concerns out there that crude oil prices are getting too cheap. There are certainly some negative ramifications to consider, but it's undeniable that cheap gas will be great for Disney's theme park business.
Less pain at the pump makes it easier to plan a road trip to Disney World or Disneyland. If you don't want to drive, lower jet fuel prices make it cheaper to fly. We're not just talking about theme parks. Disney operates four cruise ships where fuel costs are a major expense item.
There's also the general benefit to consumers. Cheaper gas leaves more money left for discretionary purchases. Whether we're talking about movie tickets or Disney Store purchases, arming the public with more dough when you're a consumer-facing company is a good thing.
2. Pay attention to yield signs
Disney's stock is now yielding more than 1.5%. That may not seem very appetizing for income investors, but it's the highest we've seen at Disney in recent memory. Aggressive dividend hikes in recent years and the weak stock are resulting in a historically generous payout from the House of Mouse.
Disney's payouts have more than tripled over the past year. The stock has easily beaten the market in that time, but it hasn't more than tripled in value. A 1.5% yield may not woo investors that got burned on utility stocks or master limited partnerships, but it's certainly not chump change at a time when interest rates on savings vehicles remain low.
3. Disney should post record financial results in 2016
There's a disconnect between the stock price and Disney's fundamentals. Analysts continue to expect revenue at Disney to climb 7% to more than $56 billion in fiscal 2016 with earnings rising 10% to $5.67 a share.
That may not seem like heady growth, but that's just fine for a giant behemoth like Disney. It would be more than enough to find it delivering record financial results for the seventh year in a row.
Enjoy the sale. It may not last.