Updated from Aug. 1

Shares of Walt Disney ( DIS) plunged Friday after the company warned investors that lingering weakness in its theme park business will pressure its current quarter.

The warning came Thursday night and was followed by a slew of brokerages lowering their price targets. Recently the stock was down 11% to $15.

The media conglomerate also announced its support for various new measures related to governance and financial reporting, including recognizing stock options as an operating expense.

Following Disney's after-hours release of financials, its shares dropped $1.30 to $15.53, worsening a 90-cent loss in normal trading. Beset by economic weakness and a vacation travel slowdown stemming from last September's terrorist attacks, Disney's shares are down 44% from their 52-week high.

For the fiscal third quarter ended June 30, Disney's revenue fell to $5.8 billion, down 6% from pro forma figures for the corresponding quarter one year earlier and shy of the Thomson Financial/First Call consensus of $5.86 billion. Net income of $364 million, or 18 cents per share, was down from the pro forma figure of $527 million, or 25 cents per share, in the third quarter of fiscal 2001. Analysts had expected a 17-cent profit.

Disney said attendance and advance reservations in the fourth quarter were soft, and the company expects that fourth-quarter earnings will drop from pro forma figures for 2001.

The booking window for theme parks is much shorter than it has been in recent times, says Disney, dropping from a range of 60 to 90 days to a range of 14 to 30 days. That "obviously limits our visibility significantly," said a Disney executive on a conference call with analysts.

Although Disney said it expected better earnings in fiscal 2003, the company shied away from offering specific guidance.

"You're seeing an economy that's sending decidedly mixed signals," said Chief Financial Officer Thomas Staggs. That, he said, "makes it pretty perilous to try to project specific numbers in terms of growth rates."

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