Media Money with Julia Boorstin

Ahead of Disney’s Earnings: Ads and Cable Revenue at the Magic Kingdom

Cinderella's Castle

Disney reports earnings after the bell, and the company’s up against some tough comparisons to last year.

In fact, this quarter is expected to show the smallest percentage increases of any quarter in fiscal 2012.

Wall Street’s looking for earnings per share of 72 cents, a five percent increase over the year-ago quarter, on four percent higher revenue of $11.2 billion.

All eyes will be on advertising trends, especially considering that rival Viacom reported a 3 percent decrease in revenue and lower ratings and general ad softness. At the media networks, the question is always how subscription revenue is growing. does ESPN, the most expensive cable channel by far, still have room to grow prices? And analysts will be curious to see when we’ll see an impact from the 10 year distribution agreement Disney struck with Comcast.

The theme park division will also be in the spotlight –analysts keeping a close eye on margins. There are sure to be questions in the earnings call about the strength of the upcoming season—whether spring break bookings reveal anything about the health of the consumer. And though the disastrous Costa Concordia accident is rival Carnival’s problem, we’ll see if Disney says anything about its impact on bookings for Disney’s new ships, the ‘Dream’ and ‘Fantasy.’

Another hot topic: Disney’s ABC is in talks with Univision to create a new 24-hour cable news channel. The English-language channel will target Hispanics, so it wouldn’t have a direct rival, but it would be Disney’s first move into the competitive cable news arena, where CNN , Fox and MSNBC are duking it out. Univision had already announced plans to launch three new cable channels this year, including a news channel, but by partnering with Disney, which has massive negotiating power thanks to ESPN, Univision is giving itself an advantage over the likes of Telemundo and News Corp’s  new entry in the works “MundoFox.”

I’ll be reporting on the numbers, and CEO Bob Iger will join us for an exclusive interview before the earnings call.

Questions?  Comments?