Opening Bell Buzz: Disney Plans New Star Wars Release for 2015

The equity markets have been closed for the past two business days due to hurricane Sandy. However, the major stock exchanges will reopen for normal trading Wednesday. Here are some big names to keep an eye on for pent up demand.

Disney (NYSE:DIS), the world-known entertainment company, announced it is paying $4.05 billion to purchase Lucasfilm Ltd., the production company behind the “Star Wars” franchise. Disney also said there would be a new series of “Star Wars” as part of the deal, with the first movie being released in 2015. George Lucas explains, “It’s now time for me to pass ‘Star Wars’ on to a new generation of filmmakers.” The deal also includes the “Indiana Jones” franchise.

Shares of Ford (NYSE:F) are likely to be in focus. The company reported financial results for the third quarter on Tuesday. Net income fell 1.2 percent  to $1.63 billion (41 cents per share), compared to $1.65 billion a year earlier. However, Ford earned roughly $2.3 billion in North America with a record operating margin of 12 percent. “Twelve percent segment margins is just insane,” said Jefferies analyst Peter Nesvold. Competitor General Motors (NYSE:GM) will also receive attention in Wednesday’s trading. Shares of GM popped over 4% after a profitable and better-than-expected earnings report this morning.

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International Business Machines (NYSE:IBM) said its board added $5 billion to its stock repurchase program on Tuesday. The addition brings the total buyback authorization to almost $12 billion and represents almost 5 percent of the company’s outstanding shares.

Airline companies such as Delta (NYSE:DAL) and JetBlue (NASDAQ:JBLU) could see very volatile trading as the market reopens. Hurricane Sandy caused more than 10,000 flights to be cancelled. Raymond Kames analyst Savanthi Syth estimates that JetBlue could see storm costs reach $25 million pre-tax. However, she says, “We do not expect the storm to have a sustained impact on earnings, through there is likely to be a shortfall from current 4Q12 estimates.”

Investor Insight: Mixed Earnings Season to Resume After Hurricane Sandy