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Disney's (DIS) Beauty and the Beast Nears $1 Billion Mark

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There seems to be no stopping media behemoth, The Walt Disney Company’s (DIS - Free Report) movies. The company’s latest live-action remake “Beauty and the Beast” is only few million away from touching the magical figure of $1 billion.

So far “Beauty and the Beast” has grossed $984 million globally, making it the 29th highest grossing movie of all time internationally and is behind “The Dark Knight”, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”, “Zootopia” and “Alice in Wonderland”. To date, the movie’s overseas collections are pegged at $550.5 million and if it continues to perform at the same level then it is likely to cross $1 billion mark globally. Notably, the movie was made at a budget of nearly $160 million.

Disney’s strategy of rehashing old animated movies into live-action remakes are paying off. The company’s earlier live-action remakes like “The Jungle Book”, “Cinderella”, “Maleficent” and “Alice in Wonderland” had garnered $967 million, $544 million, $759 million and more than $1 billion, respectively, worldwide. We believe Disney’s live-action remakes will continue to taste success beyond “Beauty and the Beast” as the company is working on remakes of “Dumbo" as well as “Mulan”.

The company has a well documented history of box office success. Luck seems to be favoring the company as it has struck gold with almost every movie released over the last couple of years. We note that fiscal 2016 has been a magnificent year for the company’s movie business. Four of its releases, namely, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, “Captain America: Civil War”, “Finding Dory” and “Zootopia” each surpassing the $1 billion mark.

Prospects Looking Brighter

Analysts believe that the coming two years will be the most fruitful for Disney. The studio will continue with its success story beyond “Star Wars”, “Zootopia” and “Beauty and the Beast” as it boasts of an impressive lineup of big budget movies up to 2018.

Further, Disney has outlined the release dates for its upcoming movies. Cars 3 will be released on Jun 16, 2017 while the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is anticipated to release on May 5, 2017. Other movies which are lined up in 2017 are Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Thor: Ragnarok, Coco and last but not the least the most awaited movie of the year Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi.

In 2018, the company is expected to release “Black Panther”, “A Wrinkle in Time”, “Avengers: Infinity War”, “The Incredibles 2” and “Ant-Man and the Wasp”.

Stock Performance

Disney’s shares have increased nearly 24% in the past six months, surpassing the Zacks categorized Media Conglomerates industry’s gain of 19.8% primarily driven by robust performance of movie business.

The success of movie business is crucial for Disney as the loss of subscribers at ESPN has been a major concern for investors. Disney’s primary cash cow, ESPN, has been under immense pressure as the Pay-TV landscape continues to change owing to migration of subscribers to online TV.

Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider

Disney currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Better-ranked stocks worth considering include Cable ONE, Inc. (CABO - Free Report) , Central European Media Enterprises Ltd. and Salem Media Group, Inc. (SALM - Free Report) . Cable ONE sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) while Central European Media Enterprises and Salem Media Group carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Cable ONE has an average positive earnings surprise of 4.7% in the trailing four quarters.

Shares of Central European Media Enterprises have gained about 36% in the past six months.

Salem Media Group has an average positive earnings surprise of 53.8% in the trailing four quarters.

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