WALT Disney Company stock fell last week to the lowest level of the year because of revenue losses connected with Euro Disneyland, analysts said.
Euro Disney SCA, parent of the French theme park and 49 percent owned by Walt Disney Company, said this month it expects to post a loss of about $87 million in the quarter that ended June 30. Euro Disney also said it expects to post a loss in the current quarter, the park's peak summer season.
"It appears to be a reaction to potential weakness in the consumer sector of the economy, as well as punishment for the operating results at Euro Disney," says Jeff Logsdon, an analyst with the Seidler Companies.
"I thought they'd be able to start to turn in 1994," says Chris Dixon, a PaineWebber analyst. "That is clearly not going to happen." He blamed the continued recession in Europe and said Disney had overspent on hotels.
"People are very concerned about Euro Disney, and the 1994 and 1995 expectations are going to come under increased scrutiny," Mr. Dixon says.
* From Reuters. Controversial Disney biography
The Disney family has launched a publicity campaign against the new book "Walt Disney: Hollywood's Dark Prince," by Marc Eliot (Birch Lane, 336 pp., $24.95). In it, the author paints a highly unfavorable portrait of the man who brought the world such cartoon icons as Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. Reviewers have remarked on Mr. Eliot's heavy-handed treatment of Disney and contempt for his creativity and business acumen. The family says Eliot made factual errors and unsubstantiated statements about Disney' s psychology and state of mind.
Among the most damaging of Eliot's assertions: Disney was uncertain of his parentage; was an informant for the FBI; was anti-Semitic and a vindictive employer. The writer argues that Disney was psychologically damaged and that his cartoon characters can be interpreted to reflect their creator's neuroses.
The family charges that Eliot's book is simple character assassination. Disney's widow said in a statement: "It would be impossible to denounce, item by item, every falsehood in this book. However, the book is full of them, in the interpretation of Walt's and my marriage, the portrayal of our individual character and personalities, and in regard to matters of company history and business...."
Eliot has said in interviews that the family naturally has a financial stake in preserving Disney's image. Disney's wife and daughter asked former FBI director William Webster to refute Eliot's claims. Mr. Webster said in a statement, "I have reviewed all of the released records and can state to you that such records do not support the assertion by Eliot that Walt Disney was an informant for the FBI."
The biographer said in a National Public Radio (NPR) interview that the key word Webster used is "released," and that the released documents are 60 percent edited or blacked out, many purportedly for reasons of national security. On NPR, Eliot defended his book, saying that he wishes the family would realize that the more people know about Disney the more they can understand and admire his work.
The Los Angeles Times reviewer wrote that much of the material in Eliot's book concerning Disney's political conservatism and his handling of the animators' strike at his studio has appeared in other books, notably, Richard Schickel's "The Disney Version" and Leonard Mosley's "Disney's World."
* By a staff writer