This is mostly a reply to reader Alex’s comment on a post from early 2017 about Disney (DIS).
The most common, and in my opinion, most reliable method securities analysts use to project future earnings for multi-business companies is doing a separate analysis for each business line. This effort is aided by an SEC requirement that such publicly traded companies disclose operating revenues and profits for each line of business it is in.
In the case of DIS, it’s involved in: broadcast, including ESPN; movie production and distribution; theme parks and resorts; and sales of merchandise related to the other business lines.
There is plenty of comparative data–from trade associations, government bodies and the financials of publicly traded single-business firms–to help with the analysis. And every company has, in theory at least, an investor relations department that answers questions put to it by investors. ( My experience since retiring as a money manager for institutional clients is that many backward-thinking well-established companies–DIS and Intel come to mind–can be distinctly unhelpful to their most important supporters, you and me. (To be fair, I haven’t spoken with DIS’s IR people for several years, so they may be better now.))
Analysis consists in projecting revenues/ profits for each business line and using the results as the key to constructing a series of whole-company income statements–one each for this year, next year and the year after that.
The trickiest part is to decide how to value this earnings stream. The ability to do this well either comes with experience or from having worked for a professional investor who’s willing to teach.
More tomorrow, or in a day or two if I don’t get my film editing homework done today.