Upgrades spark Disney to 52-week high

Shares of Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) rocketed up 3 13/16, or 11 percent, to a 52-week high of 37 1/8 Tuesday after several brokerage firms upgraded the stock and boosted its earnings estimates.

Salomon Smith Barney analyst Jill Krutick raised Disney from an "outperform" recommendation to a "buy" and bumped its fiscal 2000 earnings estimate from 68 cents a share to 73 cents a share.

Krutick set a 12-month price target a tad north of $40 a share based on "improved fundamentals taking shape."

Goldman Sachs lifted Disney from a "market performer" rating to its "recommended list." Merrill Lynch raised it from a neat-term "neutral" recommendation to near-term "accumulate" and Schroder & Co. upgraded it to an "outperform" rating.

First Call consensus expects Disney to earn 20 cents a share in its first quarter, double the 10 cents a share it pocketed in the fourth quarter.

Disney shares fell to a 52-week low of 23 3/8 in November.

Following Tuesday's flurry, 13 of the 25 analysts tracking the stock maintain either a "buy" or "strong buy" recommendation.