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The Walt Disney Company (DIS) Is a Buy on the Sell-Off

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The recent sell-off of The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) stock has largely been attributable to analyst downgrades on rising competition. Investors have become fearful that the company will face increased competition from News Corp (NASDAQ:NWS)Fox Sports 1 launch in August, which will step up the competition on one of Disney’s most lucrative properties, ESPN.

The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS)

In recent years, ESPN, which is a part of The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS)’s Cable Networks segment, has driven the lion’s share of the company’s operating income, contributing up to 69% of Disney’s total operating income. While the threat of Fox Sports 1 is a rather strong one, ESPN has a supreme position in both TV and Internet viewing from mobile devices, which will translate into years of strong earnings growth and bargaining leverage for the company.

ESPN is very well positioned to capitalize on secular consumer trends, as it has a very strong foothold on mobile apps. However, the unveiling of Fox Sports 1 by News Corp (NASDAQ:NWS)’s 21st Century Fox does represent a newly emerging threat to The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS)’s cash cow. The entire TV Networks business is performing strongly as a whole, as they are able to get paid more for their content, and they have leverage in negotiating for their TV rights business with advertisers.

And Fox Sports 1 will almost certainly be competing directly with ESPN for the broadcast of live sports programming including college sports. That increased competition might drive up programming costs for ESPN for some of the most lucrative sports contracts, which will cut into its operating margins. As a result, ESPN’s will face increased competition for affiliate fees and high-priced ad sales, but ESPN already has a massive installed user base, which Fox Sports 1 currently doesn’t.

The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS)’s amusement parks have been attracting millions of guest who are opening up their wallets. In the last quarter, revenues from Disney’s amusement parks across the globe increased 14% on a Y/Y basis and stood at $3.3 billion, and the operating income surged 73% to $373 million.  The company’s domestic resorts and the fantasy cruise ship are doing very well, and bringing in large crowds.

The average guest spending increased as The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) pushed for price increases on tickets, food, merchandise and hotel rates. Disney’s International resorts, especially the ones in Paris and Hong Kong, benefited from higher attendance levels as well as more guest spending. Disney does face decent exposure to consumer spending in its Parks and Resorts division, as the entertainment spending by consumers are rather discretionary and tied to economic cycles.

As GDP growth ticks up across the globe, including the U.S., The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) will be a beneficiary. The company’s broad and diverse exposure to consumer entertainment resorts across numerous growing regions positions the company’s iconic resorts to pull in larger crowds, while providing the company the ability to increase prices. The company made massive investments on infrastructure across its parks to capitalize on economic growth and increased consumer spending.

The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS)’s acquisition spree over the years has led to the company owning some of the most lucrative entertainment properties in the world. The company’sIron Man 3broke records in the international market with its opening. The company has a strong slate of movies from its iconic studios coming up in the next few months. The range of entertainment options coming from Marvel, Lucasfilm and Pixar will pretty much dominate the box office.

And the company’s growing reach in Asian markets including China will enable the company to not only generate more revenues from movies but also lays the foundation for more incremental sales. The company’s movie slate will not only captivate audiences but will generate more merchandise sales and drive bigger crowds to its amusement parks in the U.S., Europe and in Asia. The company’s Star Wars franchise will almost certainly be a mega-hit in the box office. And the company took a shrewd decision by licensing off the rights to the best in class game publisher, Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:EA).

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