Much like his real-life mouse counterparts, Mickey really knows how to wriggle his way into all corners. It's easy to say Disney looks smart when just one of its movies, Toy Story 3, brought in more than $1 billion in revenue this year, but it's Disney's commitment to maximizing all its resources that makes it one of the best.
Take streaming video, for example: The piece of the Hulu joint venture owned by Disney's ABC just became fairly lucrative, as Hulu's CEO revised the year's revenue estimates to $260 million from $240 million after a better-than-anticipated response to its $8-a-month subscription service. Meanwhile, Disney just signed a $150 million to $200 million one-year content deal with Netflix that includes not only the same content it's giving Hulu (after a 15-day window) but older content Disney hasn't wrung a cent from in a while. At the same time, its parks expand, its fleet of cruise ships grows, its television properties manage to negotiate higher fees (including ESPN's highest-in-basic-cable $4.10 a month) and its audience for video game properties such as Epic Mickey for Nintendo's Wii grows.
Revenue is up more than 5% this year, and the share price has jumped nearly 15%, with Disney's tweaks helping the company live up to that "happiest place on Earth" claim.