Accounting Research Project: Walt Disney

Last Updated: 23 Mar 2023
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A brief summary of the company’s products, history, and financial operations over the last year. | General Overview The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) is one that I have been familiar with my entire life. However, I have never known much about the business side of the company.

It was founded in 1923 by Roy and Walt Disney, who came to Hollywood from Kansas City, Missouri. Walt and Roy produced a short animated film series that became known as the Alice Comedies. The small studio in which they worked was outgrown and replaced by a larger facility, where they became Disney Bros. Studio (Disney Archives). In 1928, Mickey Mouse was born, followed by Pluto, Goofy, and the rest of the Disney gang, and the Disney Brothers Studio became the Walt Disney Studio. Disney’s first full-length animated film came out in 1937.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs became the highest grossing film by 1939 and the first animated feature film ever produced (studioservices. go. com). During World War II, production was slow, and Disney was contracted into creating propaganda films to endorse the war and boost morale on the home front. However, in 1950, Cinderella revived the company and the Walt Disney Productions theme park plan was set in motion, opening Disneyland in 1955. Walt Disney died in 1966 of lung cancer (age 66), and his brother Roy took over as chairman, CEO and president.

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The Walt Disney World Resort opened in Orlando, Florida in 1971, and Disney began to make its way into live-action films. Since then, the Walt Disney Company has made its name in the family and entertainment business, becoming one of the largest and most influential companies worldwide, owning markets in China, Japan, North America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Australia, and Russia. The company headquarters is located in Burbank, California, headed by Chairman and CEO Bob Iger, who ook over the company in 2005 and acquired other such productions as Pixar (2006), Marvel Entertainment (2009), and Lucasfilm (2012) (thewaltdisneycompany. com). As well as owning several media networks, hotels and resorts, Disney Consumer Products, according to the company’s website, is the business segment of The Walt Disney Company and its affiliates that extends the Disney brand to merchandise ranging from apparel, toys, home decor and books and magazines to foods and beverages, stationary, electronics and fine art.

This is accomplished through a franchise-based licensing organization focused on strategic brand priorities, including: Disney Classic Characters & Disney Baby; Disney Live Action Film; Disney Media Networks & Games, Disney & Pixar Animation Studios; Disney Princess & Disney Fairies; and Marvel. Other businesses involved in Disney's consumer products sales are Disney Publishing Worldwide, the world's largest publisher of children's books and magazines, and www. DisneyStore. om and www. DisneyStore. co. uk, the company's official shopping portals. The Disney Store retail chain, which debuted in 1987, is owned and operated by Disney in North America, Europe, and Japan (thewaltdisneycompany. com). In recent news, Netflix announced on December 4, 2012 that it has signed a multi-year deal with The Walt Disney Company. According to the article by Ramon Aranda, this will give Netflix the exclusive rights to run feature films available for users to watch instantly.

Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer at Netflix said, “Disney and Netflix have shared a long and mutually beneficial relationship and this deal will bring to our subscribers, in the first pay TV window, some of the highest-quality, most imaginative family films being made today… It’s a bold leap forward for Internet television and we are incredibly pleased and proud this iconic family brand is teaming with Netflix to make it happen. ” The article also states that the financial terms of this agreement have not been disclosed.

Another recent event for the company was the purchase of the Star Wars franchise Lucasfilm for four billion dollars at the end of October. 100 percent owned by founder George Lucas, an article in USA Today says Disney received the empire at a cost of $4 billion, 40 million Disney shares, and a year and half pursuit. This amount of shares makes Lucas the company’s second largest non-institutional shareholder of Disney, after the trust of Steve Jobs (Krantz, Matt, et. al). The article goes on to note that this deals marks Disney’s fourth largest deal ever, after Capital Cities/ABC (1995), Pixar (2006), and Fox Family (2001).

Disney plans to expand on the Star Wars film schedule. CEO Bob Iger said, “our long term plan is to release a new Star Wars feature film every two to three years,” beginning with Episode VII hopefully releasing in 2015. George Lucas will serve as a creative consultant, but plans to retire, saying, “For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next. It's now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers” (Krantz, Matt, et. al).

The current price per share of the company’s common stock is $48. 67. This number has fluctuated a bit over the last year, but has remained mostly close to the recent price. The lowest price over the last year has been $34. 52, with the highest price at $53. 40 (thewaltdisneycompany. com). Financial Status (2012) According the company’s most recent accounting statements (2012 fiscal year), total assets equaled $74,898; total liabilities equaled $32,940, and the total equity for the year totaled $41,958 (in millions). $74,898 = $32,940 + $41,958

The company earned a net income of $5. 682 billion, an eighteen percent increase from the previous year. The earnings per share during the year 2012 increased 24 percent to $3. 13 from $2. 52 the prior year. Earnings per share is important because it is a measure of a company’s profitability. It is one of the most closely watched financial ratios in the business world. The revenues for The Walt Disney Company totaled $42. 278 billion, a 4 percent increase from the previous year. Two of Disney’s competitors, News Corp. and Time Warner Inc. have revenues that fall significantly lower than this corporate giant, with News Corp. revenues totaling $33. 88 billion and Time Warner Inc. at $28. 76 billion. Disney’s current assets total $13. 709 billion, with current liabilities totaling $12. 813 billion. The current ratio: 13. 709/12. 813 = 1. 07. The current ratio generally shows the ability of a company to pay back debts. However, if a company is good at managing and planning cash flows, a low number does not necessarily mean they cannot pay back its debts on time.

This number has decreased compared to the previous year, which had a current ratio of 1. 13. Disney’s long-term assets include film and television costs, investments, parks, resorts, and other properties (attractions, buildings, and equipment), projects in progress, land, intangible assets, and goodwill; 82 percent of Disney’s assets are long-term. Compared to prior periods, these assets have increased (approximately $2 billion more than 2011). In addition, The Walt Disney Company calculates depreciation using the straight-line method.

The long-term liabilities of The Walt Disney Company total $20. 127 billion, or 61 percent of the total liabilities, compared to 63 percent of total liabilities in 2011. Disney has over one trillion shares in circulation currently, both of preferred stock and common stock outstanding. The company saw an increase in cash and cash equivalents of $202 million, giving Disney an end of year balance of $3. 387 billion, compared to the $3. 185 billion from the previous year. According to Disney’s report, cash provided by operations increased 14 percent compared to 2011.

The increase in cash provided by operations was due to “higher segment operating results and the timing of and improved receivable collections, partially offset by higher income tax payments, the payment of interest accrued in prior years on Disneyland Paris borrowings, and higher film production spending” (thewaltdisneycompany. com). Disney uses the average-cost method in order to calculate inventory, stating, “Inventory primarily includes vacation timeshare units, merchandise, materials, and supplies.

Carrying amounts of vacation ownership units are recorded at the lower of cost or net realizable value. Carrying amounts of merchandise, materials, and supplies inventories are generally determined on a moving average cost basis and are recorded at the lower of cost or market. ” Only a small portion of the total assets is represented by inventory. In 2012, the inventory only accounted for 2 percent of the company’s total assets, which is consistent with the 2 percent of total assets in 2011.

Work Cited

  1. A History of The Walt Disney Company. ” Disney 23. Web. 12 Dec. 2012. ;http://d23. disney. go. com/archives/a-history-of-the-walt-disney-company/;
  2. Aranda, Ramon. "Netflix Announces Multi-Year Agreement with The Walt Disney Company. " examiner. com(2012): n. pag. Web. 13 Dec 2012. ;http://www. examiner. com/article/netflix-announces-multi-year-agreement-with-the-walt-disney-company;.
  3. Disney Studio Services. “The Walt Disney Studios History. ” Web. 12 Dec. 2012. ;http://studioservices. go. om/disneystudios/history. html;
  4. Krantz, Matt, Mike Snider, Marco Della Cava, and Bryan Alexander. "Disney buys Lucasfilm for $4 billion. "USA Today. 30 2012: n. page. Web. 16 Dec. 2012. ;http://www. usatoday. com/story/money/business/2012/10/30/disney-star-wars-lucasfilm/1669739/;.
  5. The Walt Disney Company. Annual Report: The Walt Disney Company Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year Earnings for Fiscal 2012. Burbank: The Walt Disney Company, 2012. 15 Dec. 2012. ;http://thewaltdisneycompany. com/;

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Accounting Research Project: Walt Disney. (2017, Jan 12). Retrieved from

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