Disney Surprises with Streaming Profit, Raises Earnings Forecast

by | May 8, 2024 | 0 comments

The adjusted earnings per share for Walt Disney Co. (DIS) is expected to rise by 25% this year, up from the previously estimated 20%.

On Tuesday, Disney’s streaming entertainment division made its first profit since inception surpassing the two quarters’ expectations and resulting in a revised outlook for its annual earnings per share by the media company. Walt Disney attributes this milestone to successful turnaround efforts. Even so, the firm’s premarket trading experienced a 1.4% drop in shares.

Disney now expects adjusted earnings per share to grow by 25% for the year from 20% as previously stated. Strengths in theme parks and improvements in streaming business account for this updated view.

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Operating income of $47m was reported for direct-to-consumer entertainment unit incorporating the Disney+ and Hulu streaming services between January and March. This marks a significant change from September, when investors were assured that the segment would be profitable until at least September after languishing in negative territory since Disney+ went live in 2019.

Bob Iger, CEO was optimistic about this feat as he emphasized his company’s strategic progress: “Our robust performance during the past quarter is an indication we have rounded the corner into a new era for our company.” Iger also reasserted Disney’s commitment to becoming “the leading creator of global content.”

Iger returned to lead Disney through its transformation beginning November 2022, with cost savings worth no less than $7.5bn estimated to be achieved by September added on top of his outline – comprehensive ten-year plan comprising an investment of $60bn over park development including ESPN streaming app.

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CFO Hugh Johnston said that tougher management controls resulted in higher profitability earlier than it was predicted; he explained that last year this department lost $587m which had been corrected due to his strict management policy measures on budgeting. However, apart from India where there is a separate cheaper subscription offer, it saw a rise in ARPU (average revenue per user) outside India increased by US$0.44cents over subsequent quarter adding another six million Disney+ subscribers.

However, Johnston expects a return to profitability next quarter after spending money on cricket streaming, which will make streaming entertainment post a loss this quarter. ESPN+ inclusive of combined streaming unit is aimed at generating Q4 profit and meaningful future growth with the continuous margin expansions being predicted for 2025 fiscal year.

Disney as whole did better than anticipated as it made a diluted earnings per share of $1.21, exceeding $1.10 consensus among analysts but its division lost about $18m between January and March; meanwhile its revenue stood at 22.1bn dollars during the quarter.

Disney’s experiences division posted operating income amounting to $2.3bn in total for last year which was higher by 12% than that reported earlier; while the entertainment segment including television, streaming and movies had an operating income increase of 72% to reach $781m. Nevertheless, the sports segment comprising ESPN saw a plunge in yearly revenues from college football playoff games by 2 percent to settle at $778 million.

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