Wall St expects Iger encore, Disney shares fall
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - After a busy first year spent buying Pixar Animation Studios and slashing costs, Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Bob Iger is under pressure to produce a strong second act to keep profit growth in double-digits.
Lower pension costs coupled with higher ticket prices and per-capita spending at Disney's theme parks could offset difficult comparisons with last year's record attendance from Disneyland's 50th Anniversary celebration promotions.
"Performance of Disney's U.S. theme parks is the biggest concern," Merrill Lynch analyst Jessica Reif Cohen wrote in a note to clients on Friday. "Given strong booking trends in (the first quarter of 2007) and continued high occupancy rates, we do not expect a deterioration in the coming year."
The company on Thursday reported flat advance bookings at domestic parks for the current quarter versus last year's record-setting holiday attendance.
Sanders Morris Harris analyst David Miller had warned clients in a note that the market might "penalize" Disney on Friday since investors were used to seeing annual growth in advance bookings in the "high-single digits."