At last check shares were trading at $49.30, which is just a nickel blow yesterday's close - and 60 cents below Tuesday's intraday high. The most immediate explanation for the company's run-up is an upgrade by widely followed analyst Jessica Reif Cohen. She cited Disney's theme parks, improving film studio and interactive unit, and cable networks. But it's more than that. From Y Charts:
Turns out that Disney, founder of Disneyland, host of cruise ships and creator of blockbuster theater successes, is especially good at figuring out what people will sit at home and watch on television. And while the kiddies may be hooked on Disney cartoons, it is adult sports fans that can't seem to live without the company. Cable networks and cable subscribers pay up for its ESPN network programming, and that's what provides the bulk of Disney's growing profits. Underlying profits are up nearly 10% in the past year alone. ESPN provides a big chunk of Disney's revenue growth and more than half of its operating profits. According to the company, more adults watched ESPN last year than any other cable network. ESPN has kept Disney's revenues growing at a steady clip even while other operating segments were more mixed.
Disney has not been an especially popular stock among retail investors, in part because of a teeny tiny dividend. While the company recently upped its dividend to around 1.3 percent, you could do much better elsewhere.