NOW THAT MY BOOK "DISNEYWAR" has emerged from the realm of pirated manuscripts, rampant Hollywood speculation and secondhand accounts and onto bookstore shelves, I can finally break my long self-imposed silence on the subject of Disney (DIS) stock. Even some Disney employees have recently been asking my advice on what to do with their stock options.
Disney is at a critical point in its history. The most pressing issue is succession. As shareholders have already made clear with their historic 2004 vote withholding support for Eisner, it's time for him to go. Indeed, it is past time. Eisner should step down as soon as a successor is chosen.
My own view is that companies like Disney should embrace Google's (GOOG) manifesto, and concede that an unpredictable creative business can yield enormous profits, but not in predictable quarterly increments. Disney is not, and should not be viewed, as a typical "growth" company, for the simple reason that Disney isn't a typical company.
Disney is a treasured national institution, one that has shaped most of our lives and those of our children in profound ways. Its brand name is beloved the world over. If it can build on its creative heritage, align its corporate reality with its image, and live up to the values it purports to hold dear, it will earn profits along with the public's ongoing trust, respect and patronage. Long-term investing often demands an element of faith, and in Disney's case, I believe it will ultimately be rewarded.