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So much for the idea that Disney is the happiest place on Earth.
The family-entertainment giant stumbled badly in its latest quarter. Revenue fell by 8% to $9.6 billion during the first quarter, weighed down by sluggish television advertising, slower turnstile clicks at its theme parks, and a tough slate of DVD releases relative to last year’s winners.
Earnings fell by 35% to $0.41 a share before an investment sale gain. Analysts were expecting a profit of $0.51 a share on $10.1 billion in revenue. It’s the second quarter in a row that Disney has come up short, and that’s after blowing past Wall Street’s bottom-line targets consistently during the early part of CEO Bob Iger’s tenure.
The media titan’s strongholds proved weak, with declines in media networks (5%), parks and resorts (4%), and studio (26%). Operating margins deteriorated in all three areas. The company scored gains in consumer products as the result of its Disney Store acquisition from Children’s Place (Nasdaq: PLCE) along with a healthy 13% jump in interactive media, but those two subsidiaries make up less than 10% of the revenue.
Everyone knows that the economy is in a funk, and that means that even zealous Jonas Brothers fans are taking a breather.
Disney can’t afford to be off. It’s not like fellow park operators Cedar Fair (NYSE: FUN) and Six Flags (NYSE: SIX), which hibernate during the fall and winter and have a long-shot crack at sleeping through the malaise if the economy bounces back this summer. Disney’s wheels are always turning.
It doesn’t help that Disney is now two years removed from its most recent Pirates of the Caribbean flick. One can argue that Miley Cyrus and High School Musical have also run their course.
Getting pumped about the current quarter is tough, too. Beyond the advertising headwinds and escalating cable programming costs that also smacks around rivals such as Viacom (NYSE: VIA), CBS (NYSE: CBS), and News Corp. (NYSE: NWS), investors need to brace themselves for a dud at the theme-park level, too. Disney isn’t alone in pushing out some massive discounts, including its free birthday admission and the “buy four nights, get three nights free” promotion. The calendar is going to betray the company.
Disney suffered a $40 million shift in operating profits when Easter went from being a fiscal third-quarter event to a second-quarter holiday break. Easter falls in April this year, so the quarter that ends in March is going to have an even harder act to follow.
The family-entertainment powerhouse has weathered financial downturns over the decades. It will bounce back this time, too. For Disney’s sake, let’s just hope it happens sometime before High School Musical 27 — or when the Jonas Brothers are renamed the Jonas Grandfathers.
These days the 30-year-old skater is bringing Disney to children all over the world, including the Resch Center in Ashwaubenon, which presents “Disney on Ice: 100 Years of Magic” for seven shows Thursday through Sunday.
“I love it,” Alegre said. “I can’t tell you how lucky I am.”
The show combines Disney’s unforgettable stories with enthralling characters such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Pinocchio, Jiminy Cricket, Stitch, Buzz Lightyear and Woody, Nemo and the Incredibles. There’ll also be moments showcased from Disney’s “Mulan” and “The Lion King.”
Alegre skates in the roles of Gaston, Belle’s prince from “Beauty and the Beast,” and Simba from “The Lion King.”
Mickey and Minnie serve as hosts for the show, which features choreography by Emmy Award-winner Sarah Kawahara, elaborate sets created by scenic designer David Potts and lighting designer LeRoy Bennett and beautiful costumes outfitted by costume designer Scott Lane. Renowned designer Bob Mackie lends his talents to a red sequined evening gown worn by Minnie Mouse.
Then there’s the incredible sing-along music Disney is known for such as “When You Wish Upon a Star,” “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Under the Sea” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?”
“‘Disney On Ice’ is one of the biggest events to come to the Resch Center each year and is certainly one of the real crowd pleasers,” said Terry Charles of PMI Entertainment Group. “People look forward to it every February.”
Alegre strapped on his first skates at age 3. His mother, who now lives in Florida, is a skating coach.
“Since we were born, we were pretty much at the rink with her, and she was taking care of us,” said Alegre, who later competed in singles competitions in Spain before coming to the United States where he began competing in pairs.
He eventually tired of competing and has been with Disney for three years and with this particular show four or five months. He spoke to us by telephone from Ontario where the troupe was performing.
Q: You play two characters in the production. Is that a challenge?
A: It’s something I enjoy doing. … One character is a prince so it’s pretty skating — long lines and more classical style. And the other one is more acrobatic. You are doing the character of a lion. It’s different movements, all kinds of different stuff.
I enjoy both of them a lot because it’s a different challenge. One of them you can do more tricks, more acrobatic things, and the other is more beautiful, clean skating, which I enjoy, too. They’re hard numbers, so it’s good for me.
Q: On your bio, you list Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal as your role model. Why?
A: I admire him a lot. … He’s an amazing tennis player, but he’s an extremely hard worker, very strong physically and mentally, and he’s very respectful to the other players. He’s No. 1 in the world right now. He’s the best tennis player ever since Roger Federer. He’s very humble and I admire that. … He’s a great role model for anyone.