Updated from 4:12 p.m. EDT Disney ( DIS) keeps focusing on the big picture. The owner of the ABC television network and the Disney theme parks posted solid earnings after the close Thursday, but remained cautious about the prospects for an economic bounceback that would lift the struggling company's fortunes. Thus Thursday's postclose earnings conference call failed to change Wall Street's lukewarm feelings about Disney's outlook. The company's results have met reduced expectations, which is likely to keep the stock moving along with the market for now. But executives haven't given investors much reason to hope for a breakout in the near future. At one point Disney honchos on the call declined to update 2003 financial guidance, noting only that they had expected a more robust recovery than they've seen. Still, the company expressed optimism that it will see a rebound at some point. Ahead of the postclose report, Disney shares rose 2 cents to $18.68.
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. Disney shares have risen since Staggs' remark, tracking a modest uptrend in the broader market. Still, the few who may have hoped to hear untrammeled good news coming out of Thursday's call were most likely disappointed.