Has Disney Beaten Time Warner and Comcast for Good?

Has Disney Beaten Time Warner and Comcast for Good?

Walt Disney will release its quarterly report on Thursday, and investors couldn't be happier after having seen shares of the media giant climb to all-time record highs. With such a larger stable of businesses under its corporate umbrella, Disney's content-producing movie and television media holdings have put Time Warner and Comcast's NBC Universal to shame recently. Can Disney keep the good times going?

Disney's empire spans across many parts of the entertainment industry, with its theme parks and cruise ships providing venues for entertainment while its ESPN and ABC television networks produce content alongside its lucrative film division. As Disney has made smart strategic acquisitions, especially in the movie-studio arena, it has only underlined the rising value of its content library. At least for now, that strategy appears to have worked well, as demand for high-quality content keeps growing. Let's take an early look at what's been happening with Disney over the past quarter and what we're likely to see in its report.

Stats on Disney

Analyst EPS Estimate


Change From Year-Ago EPS


Revenue Estimate

$11.40 billion

Change From Year-Ago Revenue


Earnings Beats in Past 4 Quarters


Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Can Disney keep knocking it out of the theme park?
Analysts have had narrowly mixed views about Disney earnings recently, cutting their September-quarter projections by a penny per share but boosting their fiscal 2014 estimates by the same amount. The stock has continued to rise, with gains of more than 3% since early August.

Disney actually disappointed investors early in the quarter, with somewhat sluggish growth weighing on its June-quarter results. Even the release of Iron Man 3 wasn't enough to produce gains in studio revenue given last year's success of The Avengers, although theme parks and cable networks picked up the slack and pulled Disney to an overall 4% gain in total revenue. Disney's poor showing also reflected the disastrous flop of The Lone Ranger, for which the company expected a loss of $150 million to $200 million.

Yet Disney remains well ahead of most of its multimedia rivals, including Comcast and Time Warner. ESPN has continued to drive results for Disney's cable operations, acting as the anchor for many cable-operators' lineups and commanding huge pricing power as a result. Rival sports networks from Fox and NBC are seen as competitors, but they only earn about 5% to 7% the monthly subscriber fees that ESPN pulls in for Disney. New success from its Disney Infinity video game has driven not only direct sales of the game but also the add-on figures that enhance the playing experience, proving the value of having integrated divisions working in concert to maximize profit.

Still, the most obvious high-potential area for Disney remains content creation, where the powerful combination of Lucasfilm, Pixar, and Marvel continue to create seemingly unlimited opportunities for long-lived franchises. With the new television series "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." expected to integrate with various Avengers-related franchises, including the most recent Thor: The Dark World movie release, Disney is only beginning to unlock the multimedia value of its content acquisitions.

In the Disney earnings release, watch to see how effectively the company can continue to ramp up its content-production machine without sacrificing quality. Inevitable flops will happen, but without Time Warner or Comcast tapping into more successful content production of their own, Disney will continue to have the field almost to itself.

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The article Has Disney Beaten Time Warner and Comcast for Good? originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributor Dan Caplinger owns shares of Walt Disney. You can follow him on Twitter: @DanCaplinger. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't 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.

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Originally published