Updated from Monday

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Shares of Walt Disney ( DIS) continued to rumble higher ahead of the Dow component's quarterly report due after Tuesday's closing bell.

The stock finished 0.6% higher on Monday to $40.94, gaining ground for a sixth straight session and setting a new 52-week high of $41.20 intraday. Shares were gaining 0.2% to $41.03 Tuesday morning.
Davenport expects Disney parks to see 29% operating income growth in the first quarter.

Wall Street is expecting a profit of 56 cents a share from Disney in its fiscal first quarter ended in December, according to Thomson Reuters, with revenue projected to come in at $10.52 billion. In the same period a year earlier, Disney earned 47 cents a share on revenue of $9.74 billion.

Disney shares are up more than 8.5% over the past year, and most analysts covering the company remain bullish. According to data compiled by Bloomberg, 17 analysts have a buy rating on the stock, while 13 rate it at neutral. No analyst says sell.

The company, which is organized into five major segments, is currently the largest media and entertainment conglomerate in the world in terms of revenue. Its media networks segment, which includes Disney Channel, ESPN and ABC, is its most profitable division. Its parks and resorts division house its theme parks around the world including Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris and Tokyo Disney Resort, as well as its Disney cruise line.

Disney also looks to its studio entertainment and interactive media divisions to boost earnings, as well as its consumer products, which often relies on the success of its entertainment outlets.

Analyst Michael Morris with Davenport expects big numbers from the parks and resorts business this time around.

"We believe that performance at parks and resorts remains the most important driver of sentiment, making Disney unique relative to media peers," Morris said in a research note to investors on Monday.

He forecasts that parks will see a 29% growth in operating income for the first quarter, boosting Disney's total operating income by 19%.

Morris also predicts that the recovery in the overall advertising market will help boost Disney's media networks segment revenue, particularly at ESPN.

"Demand for ads in sports programming has continued to strengthen as auto manufacturers return in earnest," Morris said. "We estimate that ESPN grew its ratings by 8% in the first quarter."

Morris expects ESPN's adjusted ad revenue to grow 15% in the first quarter and 11% in the full fiscal year of 2011. He maintains his buy rating and his $42 price target on the stock.

On Feb. 1, analyst Anthony DiClemente of Barclays Capital reiterated his buy rating on the stock, mostly because of the recent outperformance of ESPN's ratings.

DiClemente, who also upped his price target to $46 from $42, said ESPN currently drives more than a third of Disney's profits and valuation.

"We believe the value of live sports content continues to grow for both ad buyers and distributors, and that the virtues of scale and brand give ESPN a widening advantage over its competitors," he said. "Ratings at ESPN have been accelerating over the last several months, and we believe this ratings strength will allow ESPN to achieve premium pricing for its ads in the already-hot scatter market."

DiClemente estimates ESPN's ratings were up 11.3% year-over-year in the December quarter and that they are up 40% year-over-year so far in 2011. He expects first-quarter earnings to meet the consensus view of 56 cents a share, and sees earnings of $2.51 for fiscal 2011 and $2.88 in fiscal 2012.

Analyst Matthew Harrigan with Wunderlich Securities maintains his hold rating on Disney but raised his price target to $41 from $36 on Tuesday ahead of the company's earnings report.

Harrigan expects first-quarter earnings to be up 20.4% to 56 cents a share on a 7.8% revenue gain to $10.5 billion.

He projects broadcast sales will be up 6% to $1.61 billion while parks and resorts revenue will be up 5.2% to $2.8 billion.

He predicts the company will see a 4% increase in advertising sales at ABC and 8.5% ad growth at ESPN, through 2014.

--Written by Theresa McCabe in Boston.

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