Earnings Preview: Walt Disney
AP 2/3/06

Earnings Preview: Walt Disney

NEW YORK (AP) -- Walt Disney Co. reports earnings for its fiscal first quarter on Monday. The following is a summary of key developments and analyst opinion related to the period.

EXPECTATIONS: Analysts expect Disney, the world's second-largest media conglomerate, to report earnings of 30 cents per share on revenue of $8.8 billion for the quarter, according to Thomson Financial.

ANALYST TAKE: "We expect very strong momentum in Disney's cyclical businesses and poor content results," Deutsche Bank analyst Doug Mitchelson said in a client note Thursday. Mitchelson expects Disney to top Wall Street's forecast by 2 cents per share on revenue of $8.73 billion.

Jason Bazinet, an analyst at Citigroup, on Thursday lowered his first-quarter expectations for Disney to 30 cents per share from 38 cents but said he still expects double-digit profit growth through 2008. "Disney is our top pick in the media sector," Bazinet said in a client note. "Although there are no structural catalysts, there is a compelling organic growth story."

QUARTER DEVELOPMENTS: While Disney reported several business developments during the quarter, the bigger news came after the period ended when the Burbank, Calif., company announced it was buying longtime partner Pixar Animation Studios Inc. for $7.4 billion. The deal stands to make Pixar Chief Executive Steve Jobs Disney's largest shareholder. Jobs is rumored to be a potential candidate as Disney's next chairman, succeeding former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, who is scheduled to retire when his term expires.

In December, Disney announced it would produce its first Chinese film, "The Secret of the Magic Gourd." The Chinese-language film began shooting in October in the eastern city of Hangzhou and is based on a popular children's book by the late Chinese novelist Zhang Tianyi.
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