Launch of Disney+ in investors’ sights as streaming wars rage on
Shares of the Walt Disney Co. gained 5% in after-hours trading Thursday after it reported quarterly results roughly in line with Wall Street analysts’ estimates — days before its much-anticipated streaming service begins.
Disney DIS, +4.22% said it earned $1.05 billion, or $1.07 a share, compared with $2.32 billion, or $1.55 a share, in the year-ago period.
Revenue rose 34% to $19.1 billion, from $14.3 billion a year ago.
Revenue from the company’s media networks rose to $6.5 billion, up 22% from $5.3 billion a year ago. Revenue from parks and resorts came in at $6.65 billion, up 8% from $6.14 billion a year ago. Disney’s studio entertainment segment brought in $3.3 billion in revenue, up 52% from $2.2 billion last year, thanks to strong box-office numbers.
“We’ve spent the last few years completely transforming the Walt Disney Co. to focus the resources and immense creativity across the entire company on delivering an extraordinary direct-to-consumer experience, and we’re excited for the launch of Disney+ on Nov. 12,” Disney Chief Executive Robert Iger said in a statement announcing the results.
Analysts polled by FactSet had expected Disney to report adjusted fiscal fourth-quarter earnings of 94 cents a share on sales of $19.2 billion.
The company’s $6.99-per-month streaming service, Disney+, is scheduled to launch next week, featuring content from Marvel, Pixar, “Star Wars,” National Geographic and more. During a conference call with analysts late Thursday, Iger said he was not too concerned with competing services but he did not disclose pre-sale numbers for Disney+.
Disney+ also announced a distribution deal with Amazon.com Inc. AMZN, -0.29% to carry its content on Fire TV, as well as through Samsung Electronics 005930, -1.51% and LG Electronics 066570, +0.43% smart TVs. Disney said beginning next year, its FX channel will create original content for Hulu, which Disney also owns.
The importance of Disney+ was underscored by “an extensive discussion” of it at the start of a conference call with analysts, Forrester Research analyst Jim Nail told MarketWatch in an email message. “Disney+ reinforces how much priority they are putting into the [direct-to-consumer] business,” Nail said. “They are connecting all Disney assets to Disney+, which is a good move to drive subscriptions and a significant investment in giving the service a fast start.”
The entertainment giant faces a gantlet of rivals, new and old, in the burgeoning streaming market: Apple Inc. AAPL, -0.58% , which launched Apple TV+ on Nov. 1; industry leader Netflix Inc. NFLX, +0.93% ; and forthcoming services from AT&T Inc.’s T, -0.11% HBO Max and Comcast Corp.’s CMCSA, +0.38% NBCUniversal’s Peacock.
In August, Disney reported fiscal third-quarter profit and sales that missed Wall Street’s expectations, a disappointment Disney pinned on the integration of its $71 billion acquisition of assets from 21st Century Fox.
Disney had projected that the new business would skim about 35 cents a share off its profit, but it subtracted around 60 cents a share.
Disney shares have gained 20% so far this year, compared with 23% and 19% for the S&P 500 SPX, -0.09% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.20% , respectively, in the same period.