NEW YORK (Real Money) -- To think about how good Disney (DIS) - Get Report is now is to remember how episodic and moribund it was before Bob Iger came in as CEO in 2005. Before Iger, Disney had long struggled to be a consistent growth company.
I don't need to go into the nuts and bolts of why that didn't occur. That's all covered in the excellent book Disney War by one of my oldest and dearest friends, Jim Stewart, but suffice it to say that Disney had become, alternately, a stellar winner and an excruciatingly fabulous short, depending upon the economy and the hits and misses of the chief executive officer. Originally, there were more hits than misses, including the brilliant merger of ABC Capital Cities in 1995 which brought with it the 80% of ESPN that is not owned by Hearst.
Suffice it to say, though, that the beginning of the modern era came when Iger came in. He got out of a host of ancillary distractions and focused on building a consistent packaged goods company which could deliver franchises that de-risked the organization and technology that made the parks more efficient while making sure that no one season from ABC or ESPN for that matter could derail the operation.
The result? It's quarter, which was causing Disney stock to shoot up 5 points, a gigantic move for a $160 billion company that has already shot up from $15 just six years ago.
When I say packaged goods company, I mean that Disney's become a lot like Procter & Gamble (PG) - Get Report , with $11 billion franchises, 11 products, including Mickey and Minnie, Spiderman the Avengers and, of course, perhaps the biggest of them all, Frozen -- that generate more than $1.0 billion. The difference? PG, which built its reputation on building franchises with that kind of power, has stalled in its growth, but for Disney the hits keep coming, including the December release of Star Wars. How do I know Star Wars will be a hit? How about the fact that the trailer has already been watched 123 million times? That's how Disney can keep its string of quarters with better-than-expected earnings, including this remarkable 20 cent beat off of a $1.07 basis.
Now I don't know if I want to chase Disney up here today, simply because there's too much market volatility to not think you will get a better chance. But given the smoothness of the earnings surprises, it's worth doing, because Disney's become, under Iger, the quintessential senior growth stock of our time. The company has surpassed even the amazing drug company period from the '80s to 2000, when blockbuster drugs had become the norm and raising numbers the habit.
This company's just got too many irons in the fire to not give it a super high premium multiple on its earnings. Disney's franchises are too powerful, its parks too well run, its capitalization of its characters too rigorous, to bet that it's going to sputter now. In each of its major divisions, in fact, with the possible exception of television, there's just a ton in the pipeline: a $100 million movie in India, a new theme park in China, a couple of amazing Pixar potential franchises, and better profitability in ESPN because of sunk costs on new programming now taken.
It's funny, this quarter was thought to be particularly difficult. You had an Ebola scare that was just running its course, which had brought tremendous skepticism. You had theme parks in the U.S. that were thought to be hurt by the strong dollar, something easily extrapolated from the Visa (V) - Get Report earnings conference call, where the powerful greenback had restrained tourism. You faced the possibility of some hard compares vs. when Frozen was released. And it just didn't matter. Not one bit because Iger has done so much to generate hits like clockwork.
So, let the stock settle in as the analysts re-think the company's earnings power once again. Wait for Greece, or Russia or China or some exogenous event to create a market-wide pullback. But remember, between now and next year when China's theme park opens, this will be the stock that everyone wants to own. And, if you have been reading or watching since the beginning of the Iger era, this has been the stock to give to your kids on any or every holiday and the gift just keeps getting better and better.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published at 6:47 a.m. EST on Real Money on Feb. 4.
At the time of publication, Jim Cramer's charitable trust Action Alerts PLUS held no positions in stocks mentioned.