Wall Street worries hit Magic Kingdom
Disney took a hit from an anxious Wall Street on Tuesday, with company shares dropping more than 4% at one point on a downgrade by a Citigroup analyst.Citing worries that a drop in consumer spending would hit theme parks, Jason Bazinet lowered his rating to sell from hold. In a note to investors Tuesday, he projected an 11.5% share price decline to $26 by year’s end. “We are getting increasingly concerned that Disney’s strategy and strong execution may simply get overshadowed by macroeconomic forces,” the analyst wrote. Bazinet said Citigroup’s proprietary database of hotel pricing and availability shows higher-than-expected vacancy rates and lower prices on near-term bookings. Bazinet had downgraded Disney to hold from buy in June 2006, foreseeing trouble with theme parks. As he conceded Tuesday, the stock took off soon thereafter, gaining more than 20% over the next year as company earnings surged. The stock has slumped significantly since October, however, along with shares in other media congloms. In a statement Disney CFO, Tom Staggs said: “Thus far, we are pleased with the pace of business at our Parks, especially given the fact that we had record attendance at our domestic parks last year. Currently, our room reservations at our domestic resorts for the remainder of our fiscal year are modestly ahead of where they were this time last year. Furthermore, pricing of rooms at our domestic resorts is currently tracking slightly above last year.” Stock lost 1.94% on Tuesday to close at $28.80, $2.50 from its 52-week low.