Ahead of Disney's (DIS) Thursday afternoon earnings release, nobody's expecting much magic from the kingdom.

Given weak performances at ABC and the company's theme parks, as well as the company's late-March pullback from prior earnings guidance, analysts are looking past the latest fiscal quarter to speculate how long they'll have to wait for a happy ending.

On Wednesday, Disney's shares rose 33 cents to close at $18.66.

The mood for Thursday's call was set more than a month ago, when CFO Tom Staggs told the empty chairs at the company's snowed-in annual meeting that the ailing economy and the weak travel industry would translate into "more moderate growth" than Disney had previously forecast.

Those comments were enough to persuade analysts to give up any faith they might have had in the company's prediction of 25% to 35% earnings growth in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30. And little has made Wall Street more optimistic since then, with the fear of SARS supplanting the scourge of war.

One obvious sore spot at Disney is the company's theme park division, where Merrill Lynch analyst Jessica Reif Cohen, for one, expects operating income to drop 41%.

Expectations are also low for the company's media networks operation, where Cohen expects a 30% operating income drop. Chalk that up to losses from the January Super Bowl broadcast, as well as a weak spring season.

The highlight will probably be studio entertainment, helped by strong performances of the Queen Latifah movies Chicago and Bringing Down the House, and home video releases of Signs and Sweet Home Alabama.

As for the timing of a turnaround, a mass of analysts, including the neutral Cohen, aren't going out on a limb to predict one this fiscal year. One notable exception is Deutsche Bank's Douglas Mitchelson, who has a buy rating on the stock and a price target of $26, writing that Disney could be the fastest-growing entertainment company in the second half of calendar 2003. Both Merrill and Deutsche Bank have received investment banking compensation from Disney in the past 12 months.

For the record, analysts are expecting revenue of $6.2 billion for the fiscal second quarter ended March 31, and earnings per share of 11 cents, according to Thomson First Call. For the year ending Sept. 30, the consensus is revenue of $26.6 billion and EPS of 64 cents -- up 9 cents, or about 16%, from last year's corresponding number.

More from Technology

Flashback Friday: Amazon, Chip Stocks, Memorial Day

Flashback Friday: Amazon, Chip Stocks, Memorial Day

Some Companies Are Already Feeling the Effect of GDPR

Some Companies Are Already Feeling the Effect of GDPR

Experts Break Down GDPR Risks for Investors

Experts Break Down GDPR Risks for Investors

Netflix Ready to Surpass Disney as America's Most Valuable Media Company

Netflix Ready to Surpass Disney as America's Most Valuable Media Company

60 Seconds: What the Heck is GDPR?

60 Seconds: What the Heck is GDPR?