Walt Disney Co. handily beat earnings expectations even after stripping out big gains from an acquisition in a quarterly report Wednesday, but movie-studio revenue slipped ahead of a coming windfall.
stock has been trading at record highs in the past month, as the company provided long-awaited details about its Disney Plus streaming service and launched the most successful movie opening of all time with “Avengers: Endgame.” Shares closed Wednesday with a 1.1% gain at $134.88, then initially gained more than 1% in after-hours trading immediately following release of the results.
Disney reported earnings for the fiscal second quarter — which ended before “Endgame” began raking in big bucks, but did include returns from prequel “Captain Marvel” — of $5.45 billion, or $3.56 a share, on sales of $14.92 billion, up from $14.55 billion a year ago. Much of the big beat was from a noncash gain of nearly $5 billion from its acquisition of a controlling interest in the Hulu streaming service. After adjusting to exclude that gain and other one-time factors, Disney claimed earnings of $1.84 a share, even with $1.84 a share a year ago. Analysts on average expected adjusted earnings of $1.58 a share on sales of $14.5 billion, according to FactSet.
“We’re very pleased with our Q2 results and thrilled with the record-breaking success of Avengers: Endgame, which is now the second-highest grossing film of all time and will stream exclusively on Disney+ starting December 11th,” Chief Executive Robert Iger said in a statement.
Disney sales are split into four categories, with the biggest reflecting the movie studio, television and theme-park businesses. The fourth segment used to focus on videogames and other consumer products, but now is focused on the company’s direct-to-consumer offerings like Disney Plus, a segment that was formed with the acquisition of MLB AM. Consumer products is now wrapped into the theme-parks business.
Disney reported movie-studio revenue of $2.13 billion; television revenue of $5.52 billion, with $3.71 billion attributed to cable networks and $1.82 billion to broadcast networks; theme-park revenue of $6.17 billion; and direct-to-consumer sales of $955 million. Analysts on average expected TV revenue of $5.66 billion, movie-studio revenue of $2.27 billion, theme-park revenue of $6.06 billion, and direct-to-consumer sales of $1.1 billion, according to FactSet.
Disney said that television revenue was pressured by ESPN subscriber losses, though that was offset by increased affiliate fees. Movie-studio revenue fell 15% from the year before, which Disney attributed to rough comparability with last year’s second quarter, when the theatrical releases of “Black Panther” and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and home-video releases of “Thor: Ragnarok” and Picar’s “Coco” provided a big boost. Theme park revenue jumped 5% from last year as Disney increased ticket prices in the quarter ahead of Star Wars-themed additions opening this year.
Disney’s movie and TV businesses are in the process of big changes after the company closed its $71 billion acquisition of assets from Fox Corp.
, including the movie studio and certain TV assets. The company was forced to sell off certain regional sports networks in the deal to avoid antitrust concerns, and has agreed to sell those assets to Sinclair Broadcasting Group Inc.
for more than $10 billion. Now, Disney is adding Fox’s intellectual property to its movie-release slate while trying to integrate the company. Disney said that its results included 11 days of owning Fox, which added $373 million in revenue and $25 million in operating income.
“In addition to Fox’s tremendous wealth of content, we now have a deep bench of experienced industry leaders across the entire company, a veritable all-star team of proven management talent who have embraced The Walt Disney Co. strategy and are working in concert to execute it,” Iger said in a conference call Wednesday afternoon.
Disney shares have gained 32.8% in the past year, as the S&P 500 index
has increased 7.9%, thanks to a huge April that was the stock’s best month in more than 19 years. Shares last closed at a record high on April 26, with a price of $139.92.