Is Walt Disney Co. a Value Investment?

Includes: DIS, HTV
by: Bud Labitan

The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS), together with its subsidiaries, is a diversified worldwide entertainment company. The Company operates in five segments: Media Networks, Parks and Resorts, Studio Entertainment, Consumer Products and Interactive Media. On September 15, 2009, the Company and the Hearst Corporation (HTV) (Hearst) both contributed their 50% interests in Lifetime Entertainment Services LLC (Lifetime) to A&E Television Networks, LLC [AETN] in exchange for an interest in AETN.

In December 2008, the Company acquired an additional 26% interest in Jetix Europe N.V. On December 22, 2008, the Company sold its investment in two pay television services in Latin America. In December 2009, the Company announced that it has completed its acquisition of Marvel Entertainment Inc., a character franchise company.

Last Price 35.76
52 Week High 37.98
52 Week Low 22.05

Does DIS make for an intelligent investment or intelligent speculation today?

Starting with a base estimate of annual Free Cash Flow at a value of approximately $3,900,000,000 and the number of shares outstanding at 1,940,000,000 shares; we used an assumed FCF annual growth of 9 percent for the first 10 years and assume zero growth from years 11 to 15. Review the Free Cash Flow record here.

The resulting estimated intrinsic value per share (discounted back to the present) is approximately $35.86.

Market Price = $35.76
Intrinsic Value = $35.86 (estimated)
Debt/Equity ratio = .38

Before we make a purchase, we must decide ( filter #1 ) if DIS is a high quality business with good economics. Does DIS have ( filter #2 ) enduring competitive advantages, and does DIS have ( filter #3 ) honest and able management.

The current price/earnings ratio = 20.1
Its current return on capital = 6.75.
Using a debt to equity ratio of .38, DIS shows a 5-year average return on equity = 12

Some industries have higher ROE because they require no assets, such as consulting firms. Other industries require large infrastructure builds before they generate a penny of profit, such as oil refiners. Generally, capital-intensive businesses have higher barriers to entry, which limit competition. But, high-ROE firms with small asset bases have lower barriers to entry. Thus, such firms face more business risk because competitors can replicate their success without having to obtain much outside funding.

Growth benefits investors only when the business in point can invest at incremental returns that are enticing; only when each dollar used to finance the growth creates over a dollar of long-term market value. In the case of a low-return business requiring incremental funds, growth hurts the investor. The wonderful companies sustain a competitive advantage, produce free cash flow, and use debt wisely.

Does DIS make for an intelligent investment or speculation today? Time is said to be the friend of the wonderful company and the enemy of the mediocre one. Before making an investment decision, seek understanding about the company, its products, and its sustainable competitive advantages over competitors. Next, look for able and trustworthy managers who are focused more on value than just growth. Finally ask: Is there a bargain relative to its intrinsic value per share today?

Great investment opportunities come around when excellent companies are surrounded by unusual circumstances that cause the stock to be mis-appraised. In terms of Opportunity Cost, is DIS the best place to invest our money today?


How will DIS compete going forward? Keep in mind that a financial report like this is a reflection of the past and present. It may be used to project a future, but it may not account for factors yet unseen. Therefore, pay attention to competitive and market factors that may affect changes in profitability.

In summary, using a debt to equity ratio of .38, DIS shows a 5-year average return on equity = 12 . Based on a holding and compounding period of 10 years, and a purchase price bargain of .28 percent, and a relative FCF growth of 9 percent, then the estimated effective annual yield on this investment may be greater than 9 %.

Going forward, are there any tranformational catalysts or condition indicators imaginable on the horizon? As always, I appreciate hearing your views.

Disclosure: no positions

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