Investors Assess Damage From Disney’s ‘John Carter’ Debacle
Disney Expects $200M Loss For ‘John Carter’

Disney John CarterThe early responses show that Disney watchers are miffed by the studio unit’s debacle with John Carter, but not enough to change their overall opinion of the company as one of their darlings. Here are some of the initial reactions. After the analyst’s name and affiliation, I’ve noted the person’s stock recommendation, any change in his or her earnings-per-share forecast for the fiscal year that ends in September, and key comments. I’ll add reports if and when they come in.

Drew Crum (Stifel Nicolaus) Rating: Buy. Change to FY 2012 EPS: -7 cents to $2.96. “(N)o change to our thesis here as we … continue to view the FY12 slate as weaker vs. last year…While discouraged by another large film loss (last year it was Mars Needs Moms) we’re not deterred and  continue to focus on the positives including Media Networks + Parks.”

Marci Ryvicker (Wells Fargo Securities) Rating: Market Perform. Change to FY 2012 EPS: -8 cents to $3.02. Disney “only has 12 films scheduled for FY2012, compared to 14 films in FY2011, so the impact of John Carter is clearly a set back for a limited schedule. That said,  according to our conversations, it doesn’t appear that investor expectations for (Disney’s) overall slate in FY2012 are all that high. The good news for (Disney) is that the upcoming summer films Brave and The Avengers have the potential to modestly offset some of the John Carter weakness. Furthermore, we think the film slate for FY2013 looks particularly strong, with potential blockbusters in Iron Man 3Thor 2, Monsters University, The Lone Ranger, Robopocalypse, and Oz: The Great and Powerful.”

Barton Crockett (Lazard Capital Markets) Rating: Neutral. Change to FY 2012 EPS: -15 cents to $3.04. “While the loss over the life of the movie is larger than the $140M we had been anticipating, we were not overly surprised by this news.” But the projection that the Studio unit will end up with a loss of between $80M and $120M this quarter “suggests to us  that the balance of the studio performance was worse than we had modeled.”

Michael Nathanson (Nomura Securities) Rating: Buy. Change to FY 2012 EPS: -6 cents to $2.90. “We do not expect the weaker film results to affect any of the business segments (e.g. we did not anticipate strong consumer products revenue related to John Carter)… one-off charges at the Studio segment are not indicative of the overall health of the company’s core businesses – namely the Media Networks and Parks. We view any pullback in the stock around this higher film loss as an enhanced buying opportunity.”

Spencer Wang (Credit Suisse) Rating: Outperform. Change to FY 2012 EPS: -7 cents to $2.91. “Disney shares could come under some modest pressure from this news, although the financial impact is relatively modest in the context of Disney’s overall operations. While John Carter is clearly a disappointment, we are optimistic about Disney’s upcoming slate which includes The Avengers and Brave.”

Todd Juenger (Bernstein Research). Rating: Outperform. Change to FY 2012 EPS: -6 cents to $2.97. “We have concluded this is a blip investors should ignore….This is a very different kind of a miss than, say, if theme parks generally (or one of the capital projects specifically) was off-track, cable networks were off-track or consumer products was off-track. …There is no reason to believe future results at theatrical, or other segments, will be harmed. If anything, we would expect the studio to be especially ruthless on costs for the rest of the year and beyond.”