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Walt Disney Co Stocks Gain On Upgrade

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Disney shares are up over 2% as the bell nears following an analyst upgrade as well as a huge weekend from its newest offering, “The Jungle Book.” The company still faces a battle to return to levels the stock was trading at last year.

Analysts and the weekend

Pivotal Research Group did Disney a huge favor today by upgrading the company to a “buy” from “hold” while raising the target price over 20% from $98.58 to $121.

At nearly the same time today, Piper Jaffray, responding to the huge opening of “The Jungle Book,” which took in over $103 million in it’s opening weekend.

“We can point to investors already pricing in many concerns (such as the potential impact of cord-shaving on ESPN) but can also identify many reasons for optimism, such as the opening of Shanghai Disney Resort in June as well as the company’s upcoming film slate,” Pivotal analyst Brian Wieser wrote today in a note to investors.

“The film has moved from the ‘original film’ category into the ‘franchisable’ category,” Stan Meyers, one of Piper’s analysts, told CNBC in an interview this morning.

“Given the proximity to Disney’s ‘Zootopia’ release, we were a bit cautious on the film domestically, expecting it to reach $180 [million] for the full run; now given the strong momentum, a rare ‘A’ CinemaScore rating and limited competition, we expect the film to cross the $300 [million] mark,” Piper’s said.

Disney’s “The Jungle Book” knocks it out of the park

The live-action movie is, of course, based on the English author Rudyard Kipling’s seminal work and the second time that Disney has made an adaptation of the book. The first was released as full-length animated film in 1967. With this “franchise” Disney has found the “Bear Necessities” to success with kids and adults alike.

Disney owned the weekend with “Barbershop: The Next Cut”, the second most viewed film in cinemas, taking in a mere $20 million. And while “The Jungle Book” surprised Piper and others, it’s hardly the property that Disney will make the most on this year.

“Disney probably has four $1 billion movies this year,” Jeff Bock, analyst at Exhibitor Relations Co., said in a recent  interview which would take the crown from Universal Pictures which had three last year. “All you can do is mimic them. Unlike Universal Pictures, Disney isn’t going to have a down year for maybe a decade.”

DIS is currently (2:44PM EDT) trading at $101.08 up $2.49 or 2.53% on, surprising modest trading given the upgrade and weekend.

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