Disney Q1 results beat estimates as theme parks business shines; announces 7,000 job cuts
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(Updated - February 9, 2023 5:02 AM EST)
By Yasin Ebrahim, Geoffrey Smith, and Senad Karaahmetovic
Investing.com -- Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS) became the latest big employer to cut thousands of jobs, as returning CEO Bob Iger moved to ease pressure from shareholders unhappy at the cost of its move into streaming
The entertainment giant is looking to cut $5.5 billion in cost savings by bringing its original content businesses under one roof, alongside ESPN sports networks business and its theme parks.
Disney stock rose over 6% in after-hours trading on Wednesday after Iger announced the measures on a conference call, which followed a better-than-expected result in its fiscal first quarter. The surprise was due largely to the parks business, where revenue jumped 21% to $8.74B.
Earnings per share fell some 7% to 99c but were still some 25% above consensus forecasts and a marked improvement on the previous quarter. Group revenue also came in slightly ahead of forecasts at $23.51B.
Losses narrowed at the Disney+ streaming business, as the company appeared to sacrifice the 'growth at all costs' approach that Iger's predecessor Bob Chapek had taken. However, Disney+ and Hulu eked out only modest gains in subscribers and average revenue per user fell, against a backdrop of squeezed household budgets and depleted pandemic savings. The D2C operating loss was $1.1B, more than double last year's figure, but still narrower than the $1.5B posted in the previous three months.
Disney+ added 1.4 million subscribers in the quarter to 104.3 million as of the end of the quarter, a gain of 1%. Hulu and ESPN both saw their subscriber base rise by 2%.
However, the Hotstar service lost 6% of its subscribers after giving up rights to broadcast Indian Premier League cricket matches. As a result, the global D2C business posted a 1% drop in overall users to 161.8 million as of the end of the quarter.
As such, the streaming business continued to exert a significant drag on cash flow. Net outflows more than doubled on the year to $2.16B. Despite this, Iger told the conference call that he will ask the board to resume dividend payments by the end of the calendar year.
Disney is under pressure from activist investor Nelson Peltz to rein in costs. Peltz’s Trian Partners, which owns about 0.5% of Disney, is locked in battle with Disney for a board seat at the April 3 annual meeting after his request was denied last month.
Evercore ISI analyst Vijay Jayant hiked the price target by $15 to $130 per share, reflecting higher estimates on the back of cost savings, which are "meaningfully higher than expectations going into earnings."
Wells Fargo analyst Steven Cahall also raised the price target as he went to $141 from the prior $125 per share.
"Bob Iger laid out a plan for cost cuts, content and streaming rationalization and ultimately improved profitability. An execution story is a cleaner catalyst path, and the shares should track higher on confidence + estimates," the analyst wrote in a note.
Including pre-market gains, Disney shares are now up over 30% year-to-date (YTD).
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Create E-mail Alert Related CategoriesAnalyst Comments, Analyst PT Change, Corporate News, Earnings, Hot Corp. News, Hot Earnings, Hot List
Related EntitiesNelson Peltz, Trian Fund, Layoffs, Hulu, Earnings, Wells Fargo, Senad Karaahmetovic
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