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Disney's Earnings: Will There Be The "Disney Difference"?

Cinderella's Castle
Flikr/zesmerelda
Cinderella's Castle

Disney reports after the bell Tuesday and Wall Street is anxious to see how the media giant holds up in light of the economic downturn.

The company's division most in the spotlight is Parks and Resorts and the question being how much consumer spending will hurt park attendance and revenues. If consumers are cutting back, they're not only less likely to spend a few days at DisneyWorld, the ones that do make it are less likely to splurge on Mickey Mouse souvenirs.

And the question for the parks division is whether more international visitors, driven to U.S. parks by the weak dollar, can compensate for the downturn in local visitors. The upside hope lies in the fact that the parks unit is diversified outside the U.S.

Another key issue is how Disney's networks--including ABC, ESPN and the Disney Channel--are faring through an industry wide ad slowdown. ESPN and the Disney Channel likely did quite well, as most cable channels flourished, grabbing ratings from the networks. And on top of that both likely added subscribers over the past quarter.

But ABC's numbers could be troublesome, not only because of the ad slowdown, but also because this past quarter is the one in which the writer strike has its impact.

Some analysts are looking at Disney as a real value play right now as its p/e ratio is at its lowest in 20 years. And this year the stock is trading down about 10 percent. In terms of earnings, the consensus analyst estimate from Thomson is 51 cents per share on revenue of $8.47 billion.

On the conference call I'm expecting lots of questions about the rest of the year, especially how the studio expects this year's slate to hold up in light of tough comparisons to last year's blockbusters. And I'm expecting Disney and CEO Bob Iger to throw around the term "Disney Difference" --referring to the idea of building brands to exploit across the company's four platforms.

It's an idea I've been talking about for nearly a year now--an idea epitomized by the success and growth of the "High School Musical" franchise. Now let's see what other "Disney Differences" Iger has up his sleeve.

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.