NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- When Walt Disney Co. (DIS) - Get Report shares tanked after its disappointing third-quarter results last week triggering a sector-wide sell-off in media stocks, several analysts embraced the plunge as an opportunity for long-term investment.
But others, including Deutsche Bank analyst Bryan Kraft, say the entertainment company's lowered guidance and the risks in an unsteady television climate as reasons to consider the stock priced fairly and caution investors to hold off on buying Disney.
"While we think the sector-wide reaction was overdone this past week, we do not see the secular concerns going away either," Kraft said in an Aug. 10 note, referring to struggles in the cable industry to maintain or grow subscribers increasingly unwilling to pay for television. Deutsche lowered guidance to $114 per share from $120 per share with a hold rating.
Kraft's concerns include Disney's struggles with its subscriptions at its ESPN division, which has a "high price and high fixed cost structure," as more consumers are favoring lighter cable packages, the bottom ranks of which don't include the sports network. Disney fell 8% last week after reporting its second-quarter results on Tuesday.
"We see ESPN as one of the more vulnerable networks in an environment of significant pay TV subscriber declines or spin-down to lower tiers, should such a scenario play out," Kraft said.
Shares of Burbank, Calif-based Disney, which rose 1.5% to $111 on Monday were also downgraded by BMO Capital Markets to market perform from outperform with its price target to $110 from $125, and downgraded to hold from buy at Jefferies Group.
Disney is also spending about $1 billion on a Disneyland expansion for 2017 -- likely a StarWars themed addition -- in an expense that will likely weigh the stock in the near term, said Daniel Salmon at BMO Capital Markets in an Aug. 5 note. "While we expect this will be a highly successful project long-term, the near-term impact is higher CapEx estimates," Salmon said, also citing Disney's more "cautious tone" in its earnings last week.
Disney's stock rose on Monday on the heels of a bullish Barron's article over the weekend that said shares could rise as much as 50%, arguing that so-called retransmission fees from cable-operators will continue to increase. Analysts at JPMorgan Chase & Co., Guggenheim and D&P Equity Research were among those reiterating buy ratings.
Analysts positive on Disney cite fast growth in parks, movies and merchandise that can reduce Disney's reliance on television as it gears up to open Disneyland in Shanghai next spring. Also, analysts expect Disney to benefit from the Dec. 18 release of Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens.
While some say Disney has enough ESPN licenses for pro and college sports that could benefit the bottom line over at least the next 10 years and making the case for a buy rating, others like Salmon at BMO say enthusiasm over ESPN is already priced into Disney shares.
Disney CEO Bob Iger has hinted that Disney may launch a direct-to-consumer ESPN product, which Salmon said is unlikely in the near-term, and ESPN could also potentially be included in an Apple (AAPL) - Get ReportOTT product.
"But we believe it is largely expected by investors at this point, and we believe keeping the (direct-to-consumer) option in the quiver will keep ESPN affiliate-fee growth in the skeptical column," Salmon said.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.