It has a name: The highly anticipated Walt Disney (DIS)-branded over-the-top streaming platform is officially “Disney Plus” (or perhaps Disney+), according to CEO Bob Iger on the earnings call late Thursday. He also outlined the entertainment giant’s plans to push further into the direct-to-consumer streaming space.
Disney earnings and revenue beat fiscal fourth-quarter estimates, sending Disney stock higher. Here are some highlights from the call and quarterly report:
Disney Earnings Call Highlights
- The Disney+ platform, which launches late 2019, will house a live-action Tom Hiddleston-starring Loki series, as well as a Diego Luna-starring “Star Wars: Rogue One” spinoff.
- As previously announced, Disney+ will also feature brand new “Star Wars” and “Monsters, Inc.” series, plus a “robust” pipeline of original movies for the service.
- More than a million users have subscribed to sports streaming service ESPN+, which only launched in April. This bodes well for Disney’s overall direct-to-consumer strategy, said Iger.
- Hulu is a big question mark for Wall Street. Disney will have a 60% stake in the streaming platform after it completes the acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s (FOXA) entertainment assets. Iger says that given the success of sub growth and brand strength, there’s an opportunity to increase investment in Hulu, notably on the programming side.
- Iger aims to use that merged TV production capability to fuel Hulu with “a lot more” original programming to allow it to compete more aggressively in the marketplace. He also noted potential to increase Hulu’s monthly pricing.
- The theme parks’ new “Star Wars” lands will be the “biggest lands that we’ve ever built,” both physically and in scope. He foresees “huge increases in demand.” Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens summer 2019 in Disneyland in California and late fall in Disney World in Florida.
Estimates: Disney earnings were seen rising 22% to $1.31 per share on 8% revenue growth to $13.81 billion, according to Zacks Investment Research.
Results: Q4 Disney earnings per share rose 38% to $1.48 on 12% revenue growth to $14.31 billion, beating estimates on the top and bottom lines. Disney revenue growth has slowly accelerated for the past four quarters.
The key media-networks segment, which includes ESPN, logged 9% revenue gains to $5.96 billion. Disney’s typically strong theme parks and studio segments also made a good showing, with theme parks revenue up 9% to $5.07 billion and studio revenue popping 50%, no doubt bolstered by Marvel’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp” and Pixar’s “Incredibles 2.”
Disney’s consumer products and interactive media segment revenue slid 8%.
“We remain focused on the successful completion and integration of our 21st Century Fox acquisition and the further development of our direct-to-consumer business, including the highly anticipated launch of our Disney-branded streaming service late next year,” said Iger in a press release.
Disney stock rose 2% to 118.27 in late trading after closing down 0.9% to exactly 116 in stock market trading Thursday. The after-hours action suggests Disney stock will try to clear 118 buy point from a cup-shaped base. Shares briefly cleared that entry a couple of times during a volatile October.
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