Mickey tightens his belt

Will the Mouse be eating dog food? Disney's stock is in the doldrums, which has investors worried and CEO Michael Eisner taking drastic action. The stock has languished below $30 -- down from $43 last year -- even as the Dow Jones average went up 20 percent. Media competitors' stocks did even better than the Dow average, analysts note. Eisner's response? A move to put its animated films on DVD, plus an effort to cut capital expenditures by $500 million to $1 billion.

According to a story in the Wall Street Journal, Eisner recently green-lighted a review of all capital spending. Among the businesses getting scrutiny are the Disney Stores; Disney Quest arcades and Club Disney family play centers; and the Disney Cruise Line. Although Eisner last year spoke of having 10 to 12 Disney ships sailing within a decade, he now concedes: "I have to live a longer time to get there." The company is also considering selling some assets, including its pro baseball and hockey teams. Still, Orlando's Disney World continues to be the jewel of the empire, generating much higher profit margins than the TV and movie divisions. But the new frugality has already been felt -- as when the Tarzan movie beget not a new ride but a mere overhaul of the old Swiss Family Robinson treehouse.

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