Shareholders content at Disney meet
ANAHEIM, Calif. (MarketWatch) - It's a less confrontational, more candid world at Walt Disney Co. if the company's annual meeting Friday was any indication.
In his first shareholder gathering as Disney's chief executive, Robert Iger seemed to win over a smaller, less divisive crowd that gathered just a few blocks from what the entertainment giant often dubs the "happiest place on earth" - the venerable Disneyland.
For this year at least, Disney's congregation was the happiest annual meeting on earth, in contrast to gatherings from the last few years when executive strife abounded. Amid Disney cast members dressed as many of the company's cartoon characters, shareholders seemed pleased, particularly when Iger said he saw double-digit earnings growth for the company at least through 2008.
In past years under former Chief Executive Michael Eisner the company was more guarded in its comments. On Friday, Iger seemed willing to mix candor with charm as he addressed the crowd. One shareholder asked Iger whether he would consider adding a third "gate," or theme park, next to Disneyland and the troubled California Adventure, which opened in 2001.
"We're still working to assure our second gate is successful," Iger said, referring to California Adventure. "In the spirit of candor, we have been challenged."
Disney often has been criticized for shortchanging the facility when it was built, leaving park goers unenthusiastic. It and the company's European park are considered the least successful in the company's chain.