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The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS), a large-cap worth US$252b, comes to mind for investors seeking a strong and reliable stock investment. Market participants who are conscious of risk tend to search for large firms, attracted by the prospect of varied revenue sources and strong returns on capital. But, its financial health remains the key to continued success. This article will examine Walt Disney’s financial liquidity and debt levels to get an idea of whether the company can deal with cyclical downturns and maintain funds to accommodate strategic spending for future growth. Remember this is a very top-level look that focuses exclusively on financial health, so I recommend a deeper analysis into DIS here.
Does DIS Produce Much Cash Relative To Its Debt?
Over the past year, DIS has ramped up its debt from US$25b to US$57b – this includes long-term debt. With this increase in debt, DIS’s cash and short-term investments stands at US$10b to keep the business going. Moreover, DIS has generated US$14b in operating cash flow during the same period of time, leading to an operating cash to total debt ratio of 24%, meaning that DIS’s debt is appropriately covered by operating cash.
Does DIS’s liquid assets cover its short-term commitments?
Looking at DIS’s US$44b in current liabilities, it seems that the business may not have an easy time meeting these commitments with a current assets level of US$34b, leading to a current ratio of 0.77x. The current ratio is the number you get when you divide current assets by current liabilities.
Does DIS face the risk of succumbing to its debt-load?
With a debt-to-equity ratio of 54%, DIS can be considered as an above-average leveraged company. This is common amongst large-cap companies because debt can often be a less expensive alternative to equity due to tax deductibility of interest payments. Since large-caps are seen as safer than their smaller constituents, they tend to enjoy lower cost of capital. We can assess the sustainability of DIS’s debt levels to the test by looking at how well interest payments are covered by earnings. Net interest should be covered by earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) by at least three times to be safe. For DIS, the ratio of 25.05x suggests that interest is comfortably covered. It is considered a responsible and reassuring practice to maintain high interest coverage, which makes DIS and other large-cap investments thought to be safe.
DIS’s cash flow coverage indicates it could improve its operating efficiency in order to meet demand for debt repayments should unforeseen events arise. Furthermore, its lack of liquidity raises questions over current asset management practices for the large-cap. I admit this is a fairly basic analysis for DIS’s financial health. Other important fundamentals need to be considered alongside. You should continue to research Walt Disney to get a better picture of the stock by looking at:
Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for DIS’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for DIS’s outlook.
Valuation: What is DIS worth today? Is the stock undervalued, even when its growth outlook is factored into its intrinsic value? The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether DIS is currently mispriced by the market.
Other High-Performing Stocks: Are there other stocks that provide better prospects with proven track records? Explore our free list of these great stocks here
Even if you’re living the perfect life, in the perfect location, there’s just something about summer that makes you long to experience new things. The best books of beach season all have that in common: a desire to escape place, time, or circumstance. We read the most highly awaited releases, both fiction and non-, and picked our preferences.
My Lovely Wife
By Samantha Downing
Central Escape: Instead of couples therapy, what if you kept your marriage alive by murdering young women?
Summary: A suburban couple’s proclivity for violence spirals out of control when the discovery of a victim’s body generates intense public interest, requiring an elaborate cover-up.
Best Line: “Millicent killed Robin the same way I had killed Holly. No hesitation. All instinct. And it was sexy.”
By Jeff Guinn
Central Escape: Hit the road with best friends Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Harvey Firestone at the dawn of the automotive era.
Summary: Nearly every year from 1914 to 1924, the three titans of American industry took a highly publicized road trip to promote “the possibilities of car travel.” It happened to be a pivotal decade that transformed the world.
Best Line: “It seemed a foolproof plan. And then, on August 2, President Warren G. Harding died.”
I’ll Never Tell
By Catherine McKenzie
Central Escape: Imagine how different your life would be if your parents ran a summer camp.
Summary: The five MacAllister siblings reunite at the family’s camp in rural Canada after the death of their parents. Their father’s will stipulates that four of them must determine if older brother Ryan killed camper Amanda Holmes 20 years ago.
Best Line: “Her father had been spying on them. All of them. For twenty years.”
By Robert A. Caro
Central Escape: Put yourself in the shoes of America’s most recognized biographer.
Summary: The Power Broker author Robert A. Caro became a successful nonfiction writer in the U.S. through a journalistic approach to truth (“Can it be verified?”) and novel-worthy prose. His new book provides a peek into how he manages it all: hard work and a brilliant wife.
Best Line: “Interviews: Silence is the weapon, silence and people’s need to fill it—as long as the person isn’t you, the interviewer.”
By Casey Cep
Central Escape: After working with Truman Capote on In Cold Blood, Harper Lee decamps back south to report her own crime novel.
Summary: An Alabama reverend, accused of murdering a growing list of family members for insurance money, is shot dead at the funeral of one of them. The trial of his killer captures the attention of the state’s most famous author.
Best Line: “A murdered person’s name always becomes synonymous with her murder; a murdered person’s death always threatens to eclipse her life.”
By Lisa Taddeo
Central Escape: Take your pick of perspectives: an unloved housewife, a student in love with her teacher, or a restaurateur with a voyeuristic husband.
Summary: Lisa Taddeo tracked three women and conducted thousands of hours of interviews with them to understand, and portray, the nuances of female desire.
Best Line: “She wipes her eyes and walks out and passes the rest of her senior year like a kidney stone.”
The Golden Hour
By Beatriz Williams
Central Escape: A society reporter heads to Nassau in 1941 to cover the infamous Duke and Duchess of Windsor and their colorful coterie.
Summary: A shocking death under the Caribbean sun. A cover-up with a whiff of royal privilege. Williams mixes those ingredients with spies, swindles, love affairs—plus a dash of racial animosity—and the result is a zesty romantic cocktail.
Best Line: “Murder. It’s one of those words, isn’t it, that sounds as dreadful as the deed itself.”
City of Girls
By Elizabeth Gilbert
Central Escape: For a naive 19-year-old girl, nothing could be more alien than dizzy, post-Prohibition New York.
Summary: At 89, Vivian Morris takes a rollicking look back on her days as a promiscuous girl working with a cast of flamboyant characters at her aunt’s theater in the 1940s.
Best Line: “At some point in a woman’s life, she just gets tired of being ashamed. After that, she is free to become whoever she truly is.”
Honestly, We Meant Well
By Grant Ginder
Central Escape: A remote, run-down island is lovely for a vacation but maybe not where you want to live the rest of your life.
Summary: The Wright household needs to flee—their lives, their mistakes, and each other. Still, a hilariously misguided visit to certain overlooked ruins in Greece ends up unearthing more than just ancient history.
Best Line: “A mistake is mismatched socks or taking the Bay Bridge at rush hour. You didn’t make a mistake this time, Dad. You made a baby
Are you one of those people who values cooperativeness over-assertiveness? Would you rather back down in a confrontation, doing anything to avoid seeming too bossy? Are you constantly afraid that others won’t like you unless you give in to them?
Possibly you have your favorite seat on your regular commuter train or space on the floor to stand during a kickboxing class. To make sure you get this spot, you arrive early enough to occupy it. Some latecomer arrives and insists on pushing you out of the way. To avoid seeming rude, you feel like you have no choice but to accommodate that other person’s demands. You might not even have a regular spot that you claim as your own, but instead may be stuck waiting in a very long line at a checkout counter. Just as you’re about to move to the head of the line, someone comes racing in and, without even asking, stands right in front of you. Not to the side, but right in front. Your cooperative nature surfaces, and before you can question this person’s right to shove you around, you’ve got to wait that much longer for your turn.
People who assert themselves over others, despite what’s “right,” perhaps rarely have insight into their own behavior. They continue to be rewarded for their pushiness, because there are enough people like you who find this behavior difficult to confront. Although your niceness can win you all kinds of praise and regard from those you interact with, aren’t there times when you’d like to be the one to have your way?
A new study based on the voice patterns that professional actors use to portray certain types of characters may be just what you need to help express, and satisfy, your needs in these situations. McMaster University’s (Hamilton, Ontario) Matthew Berry and Steven Brown (2019) investigated the vocal tones that actors use to convey assertiveness as part of their character depictions. As the authors note, to get into their roles, actors can take on the personalities and identities of their characters either through “method” acting, in which they literally become the character or by altering their outward appearance to make it seem as if they are what the audience expects from a given role. Even if they do try to slip inside the character’s identity, they have to make some changes in their speech, mannerisms, and ways of interacting with the other players to convey the particular persona the role requires.
Think about Meryl Streep in her iconic role in The Devil Wears Prada, where she is anything but a pushover as a fashion magazine editor, and her completely contrasting role as a meek and humble mother-in-law in the latest season of Big Little Lies. Whether or not she herself feels she has become the person she’s portraying, her outward mannerisms from the Prada Streep are barely recognizable. Berry and Brown believe that all acting roles fall into one of nine types based on whether they are high, medium, or low on the two dimensions of assertiveness and cooperativeness. Knowing how actors navigate these spots on the matrix could help you move from the cooperative to the assertive side on those occasions when you worry about being a pushover.
The nine character types with their associated dimensions are as follows:
Bully: High assertiveness, low cooperativeness
King/Queen: High assertiveness, medium cooperativeness
Hero(ine): High assertiveness, high cooperativeness article continues after advertisement
Cynic: Medium assertiveness, low cooperativeness
Self-portrayal (for actors portraying themselves): Medium assertiveness, medium cooperativeness
Librarian: Medium assertiveness, high cooperativeness
Recluse: Low assertiveness, low cooperativeness
Loner: Low assertiveness, medium cooperativeness
Lover: Low assertiveness, high cooperativeness
If you’re the “lover type” (romantic or otherwise), then you want to seem as “lovable” as possible. To move up the assertiveness hierarchy, you could stay cooperative by progressing slightly up to the hero type, if you still want people to like you. Becoming a bully would most likely not feel very comfortable, so perhaps you could take on some of the features of a king or queen.
Berry and Brown presented 24 actors with the nine character types (14 men, ranging from 20 to 63 years of age). Rather than give the players scripts with already established characters, the Canadian researchers gave their actors the category names, as above, along with a monologue script consisting of seven neutral sentences, organized around a narrative of representing objects in a room. The authors then analyzed audio and video recordings of the performances to learn primarily how the actors used their voices to portray the nine types of roles. Recording the actors in an ordinary conversation also allowed Berry and Brown to obtain a control baseline.
Imagine hearing what some of those characters would sound like to you. According to Brown and Berry, the most important qualities are pitch (high or low), loudness, timbre (wavering or solid), speed (rapid or slow), and continuity (taking pauses or speaking without a break). Comparing the speech ratings of the actors, the authors found reliable differences according to the assertiveness dimension, but only scattered results with respect to cooperativeness. Apparently, it is more difficult for the actors to distinguish themselves as loners vs. lovers than loners vs. cynics.
What ways of speaking led actors to seem more assertive? The study team’s findings can be summed up with these six acting tricks:
Up pitched—Use a higher-toned voice without going up into falsetto tones.
Loud—Speak up, as a quiet voice conveys low assertiveness.
Clear—Use clear tones in your speech without wavering.
Swift—Speak quickly to show you know what you want to say.
No gaps—Leave out the “ums” and other signs of hesitation.
Add Variety—Allow your voice to go up and down in tone, loudness, and rapidity to show that you are in control of what you want to say.
Practice these tricks yourself now by trying to portray the role of your favorite hero, or perhaps, your beloved bully. How has your voice changed from the way you normally speak? Hold onto this the next time you are faced with a potential pushover-like situation.article continues after advertisement
One other interesting result from the study involved the performance persona that the actors used when portraying themselves. Berry and Brown regard some aspects of the tonal qualities of this type of speech as similar to infant-directed communication (“motherese”), which, in their words “is the characteristic situation of caregiver-infant interaction, but is also the discursive arrangement of a seminar speaker, a tour guide, the narrator of a story, and many other situations where one speaker plays a dominant role in an interaction with attentive, but typically silent, recipients” (p. 15). If you’ve had to read a speech to your audiences, instead of talking without notes, you’ve probably adopted this tone of voice as well. Teaching versus conversing, therefore, carries distinct qualities all its own.
To sum up, it appears that, whether or not you feel more assertive, you can fool your listeners into thinking that you are just by virtue of the way you speak. Rather than needing weeks of assertiveness training to be better at getting your way, the Brown and Berry study hints that using your voice can help you accomplish the same goals.
If you’ve ever gotten to meet a truly great actor just after they have performed a role on stage, you might have been shocked by just how different they are face to face.
Of course, we all know that the character on the stage or in the film isn’t the same as the person playing him or her. However, to see and hear that actor up close, to witness their transformation in that context can still be a bit unexpected.
So how do they do it? As actors we all have those friends and colleagues who seem to effortlessly slip into character just before a performance or an audition–what’s their secret? Here are a few procedures that can help ease your way into getting into character more smoothly and quickly.
1. Inside Out
The truth is the real secret to great acting is hard work. As much as we lionize and admire masterful actors like Daniel Day Lewis and Meryl Streep for their seemingly effortless gift for playing characters, the truth is that all the greats are incredibly hard workers. Sure, there is such a thing as inborn talent. But without hard work that talent would wither and die. So the first step to playing a character is to know who you are. Research, research, research. You should know the piece backward and forward, the era, the time of year, time of day, etc. You should also know where you are coming from. As Michael Shurtleff, author of the seminal actor’s handbook “Audition” says, “Every scene you will ever act begins in the middle, and it is up to you, the actor, to provide what comes before.” And this applies not just to the literal moments leading up to the scene you’re about to play–you also have to know your character as you know yourself. What made them who they are today? What kind of childhood did they have? Imagine some experiences that may have shaped them as you yourself have been shaped. The more you can take the time to do this kind of background work and internalize this sort of research, the easier it will be to slip into the skin of your character when the moment comes.
2. Outside In
So that takes care of the internal part of the character. Now for the external. You may hear some actors refer to themselves as “inside-out” actors, or “outside-in” actors. This usually refers to whether they approach the creation of the character from the internal, mental and emotional base, or if they approach it from the externalities, like a limp or other physical mannerisms, or a costume or wig or something like that. It’s important to building a genuine character to use both internals and externals, but once you’ve locked in a solid way of physically being with the character, it becomes much easier to slip into it. Just to look at one example: is your character shy? Or bold? Think about how that will affect the set of his or her shoulders, the way they walk, the way make and hold eye contact, etc. As you’re learning the lines, get up and move around. How do the words you’re saying make you feel, in a physical sense? Every real actual human being in the world is made up of layer upon layer of psychological, emotional, and mental baggage that informs how we move and speak–in order to play a genuine character you need to build up a simulacrum of that. It sounds silly, but it’s amazing how easy it is to “put on” a character once you’ve established a physical shell for him or her to reside in.
3. Where Are You Going
That gets us to the present, how the character became who and what they are, and what forces shaped them, both mentally and physically. Now it’s time to focus on what is to come for the character. What do you want as the character? What is your objective in the scene and in the overall piece? This is obviously Acting 101-level stuff that we all know and will have worked on by now. But it’s vital that you take a little extra care here, in order to get yourself in a state where you are truly inhabiting the character. Too many of us go into an audition thinking about what we wore (Is it right? Is it wrong? Is it too much? Too little?) worrying about forgetting lines, thinking about what the casting director might be looking for, (Am I too fat/thin/old/young?). Or perhaps we’re simply dreaming about what we’re going to do with all that filthy lucre once we land the gig. In other words, our minds are in million pieces and in a million places that have nothing to do the character we’re supposed to be playing. So as backwards as it may sound, just before stepping into the audition room or into the scene, stop thinking about the lines for a moment and instead really focus on what you want as the character. What are you trying to make happen? As humans we’re all driven by our desires, both hidden and apparent. In order to play a genuine character, you must let those desires come to the fore.
As discussed, so much of what we see as great, natural ease with acting is really the result of hard work. That holds true for getting into character as well. Acting requires a tremendous amount of concentration. When you’re acting, you’re pulling off an insane balancing act: saying words that you know by heart but that must appear to be spontaneous, and portraying a person that is you, but not really you–in other words you must “…behave truthfully under imaginary circumstances,” as Sanford Meisner said. In order to do that you need to focus yourself. If you’re in a busy audition waiting room, try to find a quiet corner when your time is coming up. Take some deep breaths and focus all your energy on the previous background work you’ve done. Sure, it’s possible to go directly from a silly conversation with another actor about last weekend’s party into playing a character, but you’re likely to have better results if you take the time to properly focus your energies.
5. From Your Heart and Soul
So much of what comes out in our words and behaviors originates in nothingness. That is, a thought is just the electrochemical firing of communication between neurons in our brains, a tiny, infinitesimal bit of energy. You can’t weigh a thought; you can’t measure it physically. Yet those thoughts can manifest in very real externals: nervous sweat, red-faced anger, tears of sorrow. So the first step to playing a genuine character is to believe in yourself as the actor who is right to play him or her. Confidence–like nervousness, anger, or sadness–radiates outwards and manifests in our physicality. If you believe in yourself as an actor, your belief in your character will reflect that. Let go of doubt, and take all the hard work you’ve done to get where you are, and let it shine. The result will be a genuine, deep, and rich character!