Market Minute: Disney Beats Despite Flop; Cloudy Quarter for First Solar

Three entertainment giants post earnings, and it's not all fun and games. Those stories and more are what's making business new Wednesday.

The Dow industrials (^DJI) fell 93 points Tuesday, their biggest loss in nearly six weeks. The Standard & Poor's 500 (^GPSC) lost 9, and the Nasdaq composite index (^IXIC) dropped 27 points.

walt disney earnings theme parks espn lone ranger movie flop
Jae C. Hong/AP
Walt Disney's (DIS) quarterly earnings edged just slightly higher. Strong results at the company's theme parks and its ESPN network were offset by problems at the box office for "The Lone Ranger" movie. Disney expects to take a loss of up to $190 million on that flop.

But Time Warner's (TWX) was helped by strong showings for "The Great Gatsby" and "Man of Steel." Its profit jumped 87 percent.

21st Century Fox (FOX, FOXA), the media company recently spun off from News Corp. (NWS), says its operating net fell from a year ago, but revenue growth was strong.

Some clouds on the horizon for First Solar (FSLR). Its net tumbled by 70 percent from a year ago and the solar panel maker lowered its outlook for the rest of the year. First Solar stock has jumped more than 50 percent so far this year, but it's set to fall Wednesday.

One more earnings for you: AOL (AOL), which produces this report, posted better-than-expected results. It also agreed to buy for more than $400 million to boost its online video segment.

The bidding for Onyx Pharmaceuticals (ONXX) keeps going higher. Bloomberg reports that Amgen (AMGN) has raised its offer to $130 dollars a share, after Onyx rejected an earlier bid of $120 a share.

China has fined Mead Johnson Nutrition (MJN), Abbott Laboratories (ABT) and four other international milk suppliers a total of $108 million for price fixing. China has been cracking down on foreign businesses, with other companies facing bribery and other charges.

And Monsanto (MON) raised its quarterly dividend by 5.5 cents a share, an increase of about 15 percent.

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.

Invest Like a Cicada: 5 Stocks to Buy and Hold Until 2030
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Market Minute: Disney Beats Despite Flop; Cloudy Quarter for First Solar

Ford has been making cars through a fair number of cicada emergence cycles, and that's not going to change. Cars will naturally look materially different in 17 years; by then, it wouldn't be a shock to see self-driving cars in widespread use. Ford should continue to have a major role in the industry.
Naturally, there may be trends moving away from automobiles in general. The urbanization trend -- which features people flocking back to metropolitan areas where mass transit makes car ownership less important -- will likely continue. U.S. automakers may also continue to lose market share to overseas rivals.

However, it's hard to bet against Ford. Remember, Ford was the only major U.S. automaker to avoid the government's bailout in 2009, proving its mettle during tough times.

This pick will be controversial given the way that Apple's stock has been beaten down since peaking late last year. But the consumer tech giant is a survivor.

Since the last Brood II invasion we saw the iPod in 2001, the iPhone in 2007, and the iPad in 2010. Yes, Steve Jobs is gone, but denying Apple its historical bent to raise the bar in consumer electronics would be a costly mistake. Apple will find a way to innovate its way to growth and margin expansion.

The world's largest retailer has plenty of detractors. Critics argue that Walmart destroys mom-and-pop businesses and treats its employees unfairly. However, 60 percent of the people in this country will visit a Walmart this month. Think about that. Walmart rang up more than $469 billion in sales last year. Think about that, too.

Walmart's size endows it with pricing advantages that it passes on to its customers, giving the discount department store chain and edge that can't be matched. The future may find online retail and digital delivery eating into its share of some product categories. But at the end of the day, you don't bet against Walmart's ability to provide goods at prices that free shoppers to spend more on other things.

Despite remarkable changes in the world, some things have stayed constant from one cicada infestation to the next. Soap is still soap. Toilet paper is still toilet paper. Toothpaste is still toothpaste. And that probably won't change between now and 2030.

Procter & Gamble is home to large pantry of household brands that consumer know all too well. From Crest toothpaste to Bounty paper towels, it's hard to escape Procter & Gamble's reach. Some of its billion-dollar brands -- in other words, products that generate at least a billion dollars in annual sales -- include Pampers baby diapers, Duracell batteries, and Charmin toilet paper.

Its portfolio of products is so diversified that Procter & Gamble can weather the rare innovations that make a particular category obsolete. Along the way, patient investors get rewarded. Procter & Gamble has increased its dividend in each of the past 57 years.

The House of Mouse has been the undisputed champ of family entertainment for decades, but it's not something that Disney has taken for granted. Disney bought Capital Cities/ABC in 1995, a year before the last periodical cicada wave. It was a major purchase, and perhaps more for landing ESPN than ABC.

However, since the last Brood II emergence, the media giant has snapped up Pixar, Marvel, and most recently Lucasfilm to beef up its library of magnetic characters that it can build on through its cable properties, theme parks, and merchandising initiatives.

The way children consume media has evolved dramatically over the years, but digital media has presented new ways for Disney to cash in on the incessant appetite for family-friendly entertainment.

Besides, if there's a movie to be made that transforms cicadas into endearing insects in an animated theatrical release, it would be probably be Disney's handiwork.
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