Disney shares jump after analysts’ upgrades

Shares of Walt Disney Co rose 13 percent on Wednesday after several analysts upgraded the stock, a day after the No. 1 U.S. entertainment company posted a 26 percent drop in quarterly earnings but showed surprising stability in its cable and theme parks operations.

Stronger-than-expected results at Disney’s ESPN sports network, Disney Channel, and ABC Family Channel spared the company from even deeper losses in the midst of a global advertising and consumer spending downturn.

Disney executives said advertisers remained cautious but that theme park booking appeared to be holding steady through the back half of the year.

Wunderlich Securities analyst Martin Pyykkonen upgraded his rating to hold from sell, citing the parks and cable outlooks.

He cautioned, however, that the company faces a ‘fundamental challenge’ in dealing with its movie studios, which posted a 97 percent drop in earnings and was ‘missing the mark at the box office and on home video.’

Tuna Amobi, media and entertainment analysts at Standard & Poor’s Equity Research, also upgraded Disney to buy from hold, noting ‘early signs of stabilizing’ in ad sales at ESPN and ABC, and the fact that price cuts at the parks appeared to be working. He also raised his share price target by $8 to $30.

Barclays Capital analyst Anthony DiClemente upgraded Disney to overweight from underweight and raised his price target to $32 from $17.

DiClemente expressed ‘structural concerns’ about parts of Disney’s media business, including DVD sales, but concluded that it was ‘best-positioned for media’s digital evolution.’

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