It is hard to imagine anything less synergistic for the Walt Disney Co. -- the company of Mickey Mouse, Snow White, It's a Small World, and Miley Cyrus -- than sports channel ESPN, but today's Wall Street Journal points out that when Disney reports its first-quarter earnings after the close of trading today (Tuesday), all eyes will be on the performance of ESPN, which currently brings in as much operating income as all of Disney's other business segments combined. Disney's 80-percent stake in ESPN, the Journal noted, is estimated to be worth $40 billion -- 10 times what it paid to acquire Lucasfilm and 10 times what it also paid for Marvel. Analysts are predicting that Disney will report a small dip in quarterly earnings today -- largely due to higher licensing fees that it paid for college football games on ESPN.
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