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With Disney's 2020 results to be disclosed on Thursday, investors eye streaming new figures

In early December, Disney Plus had 86.8 millions subscribers worldwide

A smartphone with displayed "Disney" logo is seen on the keyboard
A smartphone with displayed "Disney" logo is seen on the keyboard in front of displayed "Streaming service" words in this illustration taken March 24, 2020. Photo: Reuters/Dado Ruvic/File Photo
  • Investors will look for information on when the company might be able to reopen its Disneyland theme park in California, which has been closed since March, and any forecasts on operations at its flagship Walt Disney World in Florida;
  • In the meantime, all expectations are on the company’s streaming services, especially the flagship Disney+.

Walt Disney, which wowed investors in December with ambitious streaming TV plans, will update Wall Street on Thursday about its digital subscriber membership and the future of its pandemic-hobbled theme parks.

The company’s shares closed at an all-time high of $190 on Monday after December’s unveiling of a programming blitz to boost Disney+, the streaming service the company launched in November 2019. Shares ended trading at $188.21 on Tuesday.

READ ALSO: Ahead of Blim, Disney+ already has a 6% market share among streaming players in Mexico

When Disney releases its quarterly earnings report after stock markets close on Thursday, investors likely will zero in on how many subscribers have joined the Disney+ rolls since early December, when customers stood at 86.8 million (7 million more than early October, the end of the company’s third-quarter). Disney+ was launched in Latin Americathe second-fastest-growing streaming market worldwide – on November 17th.

The company released Pixar‘s movie Soul on the platform on Christmas and debuted Marvel‘s series WandaVision in January.

Disney’s rapid streaming growth, which drew praise from Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings, has helped propel its stock while the theme park and movie studio continue to feel the effects of the global coronavirus pandemic.

READ ALSO: Disney+ reached 6% of the SVOD market share in Brazil over two months

Lightshed Partners analyst Rich Greenfield in January upgraded his rating on Disney to “neutral” from “sell.” He said investors were looking past COVID and focusing on how Disney will fare after the pandemic. Shareholders have rewarded the company for “leaning much more heavily into streaming at the expense of near-term earnings,” Greenfield said.

Overall, analysts surveyed by Refinitiv expect Disney’s earnings per share to show a loss of 42 cents for October through December compared, with a gain of $1.53 a year earlier.

For the first time, Disney will be reporting results under a new structure announced in October by Chief Executive Bob Chapek to focus the company around streaming.

READ ALSO: Warner Media presents its Latin American originals for 2021 and confirms HBO Max’s launch in the region later this year

“We believe the underlying business trends to be roughly stable on a sequential basis, as Disney World remains open (at limited capacity) and some live sports have returned to media networks,” Bernstein analyst Todd Juenger said in a research note.

Still, investors will look for information on when the company might be able to reopen its Disneyland theme park in California, which has been closed since March, and any forecasts on operations at its flagship Walt Disney World in Florida. The Florida resort has restricted attendance to allow for social distancing.

Disney watchers also will look for news about future movie release plans. The company has delayed several big-budget films, as many movie theaters remain closed, and moved some to Disney+.

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