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Love in the Mouse House: Street's bullish calls on Disney

2016 wasn't the best of years for Disney shares. The stock closed out the year in the red as the Dow's third-worst performer.

Despite a number of blockbuster hits -- the company surpassed $6 billion in global box office sales for the first time in history -- ESPN concerns and lower-than-expected revenue from Disney resorts continued to plague the stock.

And yet, the Street thinks there's still magic in the company.

Today Evercore ISI released a note upgrading the stock to "Buy" from "Hold," and called Disney a "top pick for 2017." Similarly, Piper Jaffray named it their "top large-cap pick for '17."

So, is Disney a blockbuster stock or is there more trouble brewing in the Magic Kingdom? The "Halftime Report" experts debated the name.


Evercore believes that Disney will be a beneficiary of president-elect Trump's tax reform.

"Using House Speaker Paul Ryan's tax proposal as a blueprint for reform under the Trump administration, Disney's effective tax rate could fall to ~20% from 34%," Evercore analyst Vijay Jayant wrote.

While Josh Brown is positive on Disney and thinks the "recent rally should continue," he doesn't attribute the stock's upward potential to Trump's policies.

The mouse house made a big bet on its Shanghai Disney Resort and expects a lot of growth to come from the Asia-Pacific region. But Josh Brown is quick to point out that Trump's attitude and actions toward China might limit the resort's potential.

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

Stephanie Link agrees with Evercore's macro-call that Disney will do well in a pro-inflation, pro-growth environment and that it could benefit from reduced corporate taxes. But she still sees ESPN as a negative drag on the name.

"Maybe ESPN isn't as bad, but it's still pretty bad. And the environment is not going to get any better...I certainly would not be chasing it [Disney stock] at $106, not after the move it just had."


Piper Jaffray has a $115 price target on the stock, and Evercore is calling for $120.

Joe Terranova believes the stock won't have any trouble hitting these levels.

Unlike Link, he believes that "we've overcome the headwind of ESPN."

But one thing Terranova is watching for is an indication of who will succeed CEO Bob Iger when he steps down in 2018.

"I think if there is a headwind out there coming it's when Iger leaves and what happens at that point and what does the transition look like," he noted.

Bob Iger, chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company.
Drew Angerer | Getty Images
Bob Iger, chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company.

Trader disclosure: On January 3, 2017 the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC's "Halftime Report" were owned by the "Halftime Report" traders:

Josh Brown: Long Stock: AAPL, AMD, AMGN, BMY,DE, DNKN, GE, GOOGL, MA, NKE,NVDA, SHAK, TWTR, XLE, YUM

Stephanie Link: Long AAPL, AGN, AIG, AMZN, APC,APD, AVGO, BAC, BHI, CAG, CAT, CB, CIEN, CMI, CSCO, CVX, CXO,DB, DOV, DOW, EL,EOG, ETFC, FB, HDS,GOOG, GOOGL, GS, IBB, JPM, JWN, LLY, LRCX, M, MAT, MDLZ,MGM, MSFT,NKE, PANW, PF, PG, RTN, SLB, STI, T, TGT, TROW, UNH, UPS, URI, WBA,WFC, WLK, WMB, X, YUM, ZION

Jon Najarian: Own Calls: AAPL,AMZN, BAC, BDX, CALM, CMA, COG, CPB, DAL, EEM, FB, FCX, FEYE, GLUU, HD, IWM,JBLU, KEY,KSU, MGM, MSFT, MSFT, OPK, PXD, STLD, UUP. Long Puts: NVDA

Pete Najarian: Own Calls: AKS, BLL, BVN, BZH, CCL, CNX, ETP,GDX, GILD, HA, JBLU, KMB, LVS, MT, NEM, P, RIO, STX, TLT, TV, UUP, XLF, WFT,WLC. Long Stock: AAPL, BAC, BLL, DIS, DISCA, GE, GILD, HD, INTC, JWN, KMI, KMIA, KO,LVS, MRK, MSFT, PEP, PFE, WYNN, XLNX. Long Puts: GGP, PJC, X

Joe Terranova: Long Stock: ADBE,CVS, FANG, GS, MCK, P, RF, SJM, VRTS.