Story at : http://www.businessweek.com/magazine...+index_careers
How Bob Iger Unchained Disney
For the past year, the media-entertainment complex (aka Hollywood) has provided riveting theater. Summary firings at Viacom. (VIA ) A quixotic bid to break up Time Warner (TWX ). News Corp.'s (NWS ) O.J. Simpson moment. But one entertainment colossus has been remarkably peaceful--so much so it's easy to forget that not long ago this place was a snake pit of warring egos, board intrigue, and assorted skulduggery.
That institution, of course, is Walt Disney Co. (DIS ). Not only has peace broken out since Robert A. Iger settled into Michael D. Eisner's throne at the pseudo-Tuscan headquarters in Burbank, Calif., but the Mouse House also has been racking up enviable numbers. It's posting record earnings, and the stock price has been defying gravity like Disneyland's Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
So the Oscar for Disney's turnaround goes to...Bob Iger. No, wait, to Michael Eisner. No, both.
Ignore for the moment the splash Iger made last year when he repaired relations with Steve Jobs and took control of Pixar, the Apple Inc. (AAPL ) founder's animation hit factory. Most of the good news at Disney since Iger's ascension--the resurrection of ABC, the $2 billion Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, rising attendance at Disney's U.S. theme parks--are the payoff of plans laid during the Eisner era. And though Iger was deeply involved in the revival at ABC, he is the first to give his predecessor credit: "It was because of Michael that I was able to hit the ground running," he says.
On the other hand, those record profits deserve a second look. Yes, net income soared 33% in fiscal 2006, to $3.4 billion, while revenues climbed 7%, to $34.3 billion. But Disney had a one-of-a-kind year in 2006, with two box-office smashes in Cars and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest that by themselves gave Disney earnings a huge pop. That sets the bar high for Disney this year. While another Pirates film is due out this summer, along with Pixar's Ratatouille, Thomson Financial (TOC ) projects net income growth in 2007 of 12%, vs. 24% for the media sector as a whole.
To buffer the company against the hit-and-miss vagaries of the movie business, Iger will need to complete an ongoing resuscitation of the Paris and Hong Kong theme parks, keep ABC's momentum going, and encourage the Pixar team to make more than one film a year. He must also make Disney nimbler and capable of moving quickly to seize the digital day.