Disney reported earnings after the bell. Here are the results.
The company may show slowing growth of its Disney+ streaming service. During the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference in September, CEO Bob Chapek said the segment’s growth has “hit some headwinds” and that Disney expects to add “low single-digit millions” of streaming subscribers in the fourth quarter.
Wall Street seems more bullish than Chapek. StreetAccount estimates the company will report 125.4 million total Disney+ subscribers as of the fourth quarter, suggesting 9.4 million new subscribers since the third quarter.
Investors will be attuned to the company’s subscriber guidance for the fiscal first quarter of next year. JPMorgan said in a note Oct. 25 that there’s a growing concern in the investor community that Disney won’t be able to hit its 2024 target of 230 million to 260 million Disney+ subscribers.
“We understand the backdrop for the concerns, given: 1) the moderation in growth in recent quarters, 2) more competition, and 3) general concerns that the initial impressive sub ramp benefitted from stay-at-home impacts of COVID-19 and is not representative of growth in a more normalized environment,” the JPMorgan analysts said.
Disney will also provide updates about its theatrical business, which saw a strong uptick during the most recent quarter. The company released films such as “Black Widow,” “Free Guy” and “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” during those three months and delivered solid box-office results.
Looking to the last stretch of the year, Disney will release hotly anticipated films “Encanto” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which are expected to be big draws for audiences domestically and abroad.
Analysts will also pay attention to the company’s comments around recovery in the global theme park and resorts business. On Monday, the U.S. lifted its pandemic travel restrictions, which had barred many international visitors from entering the country since early 2020. An influx of foreign tourists will be a boon to Disney’s domestic theme parks.
“Despite some domestic travel hiccups in August, Disney’s domestic parks recovery should push FY 2022 operating profits back to FY 2019 levels. The speed of this improvement is unprecedented and will likely lead to Parks profits and margins above prior peaks going forward,” MoffettNathanson wrote in an October note.
In the last quarter, Disney’s Parks, Experiences and Products segment returned to profitability for the first time since the pandemic began, though the parks alone were not yet profitable.
The resurrection of the theme park industry is critical to Disney’s top line. In 2019, the segment, which includes cruises and hotels, accounted for 37% of the company’s $69.6 billion in total revenue.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.