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Disney misses on subscriber expectations, parks revenue still hurt by Covid restrictions

Disney+ had been bolstering the company’s success as it was losing out on business from Covid restrictions, but it seems the rapid growth is starting to slow.

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In this handout photo provided by Walt Disney World Resort, guests stop to take a selfie at Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort on July 11, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Matt Stroshane | Walt Disney World Resort | Getty Images

Disney reported second quarter results Thursday, posting lower-than-expected revenue and subscriber counts for its streaming service.

The company’s stock dipped around 3.5% in after-hours trading.

  • Earnings per share: 79 cents vs 27 cents expected in a Refinitiv survey of analysts
  • Revenue: $15.61 billion vs $15.87 billion expected in the survey

Streaming

The company missed on subscriber estimates for Disney+, coming in at 103.6 million paid subscribers. It was expected to post 109 million, according to FactSet.

The streaming service had been bolstering the company’s success as it was losing out on business from Covid restrictions, but it seems the rapid growth is starting to slow. Still, the company reiterated its plans to see between 230 million to 260 million subscribers to Disney+ by 2024.

“This quarter’s numbers were exactly as we projected internally, so no disappointment here,” CEO Bob Chapek told CNBC’s Julia Boorstin.

Average monthly revenue per user dipped 29% year over year to $3.99, which the company attributed to the launch of Disney+ Hotstar. The service has lower average monthly revenue per paid subscriber than traditional Disney+ in other markets, pulling down the overall average for the quarter.

Disney CFO Christine McCarthy said on the company’s earnings call that excluding Hotstar, average revenue per paid Disney+ subscriber would have been $5.61 in the quarter.

Average monthly revenue per paid subscriber grew slightly for Disney’s other direct-to-consumer platforms, ESPN+ and Hulu.

The company said it now has around 159 million total subscribers across its streaming services as of the end of the second quarter. Revenue for Disney’s direct-to-consumer business grew 59% to $4 billion, which has helped offset losses in other segments affected by the pandemic.

Disney announced it is also extending its MLB contract through 2028 and that it signed an eight-year soccer deal with LaLiga.

Parks

Revenue at Disney’s parks, experiences and products segment fell 44% to $3.2 billion, as many of its theme parks were either closed or operating at reduced capacity and its cruise ships and guided tours were suspended.

The company said the outbreak cost this division around $1.2 billion in lost operating income during the latest quarter.

Disney recorded a one-time $414 million charge during the quarter for impairments and severance for the planned closure of an animation studio and Disney-branded retail stores, and severance paid to workers at its parks and and resorts businesses.

Disney reopened its two California-based parks on April 30, so any revenue garnered over the last few weeks is not reflected in the fiscal second-quarter results. However, the parks’ reopening could boost expectations for the fiscal third quarter.

“We are very encouraged by the initial guest response,” McCarthy said, adding that forward-looking bookings are strong as coronavirus case counts decline and vaccines ramp up.

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said earlier Thursday fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a face mask or stay six feet away from others in most settings, whether outdoors or indoors. Chapek pointed toward the new guidance as good news for the company, saying in the earnings call it will be a bigger catalyst for growth and attendance.

“I think in relatively short order you’re going to see our attendance go up significantly,” Chapek later told CNBC.

As of Thursday, Disney’s Paris-based theme park is the only location that has not reopened to the public.

Content sales and licensing revenues fell 36% for the quarter to $1.9 billion. The award-winning “Nomadland” was Disney’s only theatrical release in the U.S. over the quarter (it debuted simultaneously on Hulu). “Raya and the Last Dragon,” Disney’s latest animated feature, also debuted in some theaters internationally. It was made available on Disney+ Premier Access for $30.

Several Marvel titles are on the horizon, such as “Black Widow,” “Eternals,” “Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings,” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home” as well as “Cruella,” “Jungle Cruise,” “Free Guy,” “Encanto” and “West Side Story.”

The company said that “Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings” and “Free Guy” will be released first in theaters, with an exclusive 45-day window. Disney said earlier Thursday its blockbuster film “Jungle Cruise” will debut in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access on July 30.

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Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/13/disney-dis-q2-2021-earnings.html

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