Business

Disney results beat expectations as streaming offsets park struggles

The Disney+ streaming service had reached 94.9 million subscribers as of Jan. 2

Photo: REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
  • The company posted earnings of 32 cents per share for October through December;
  • Disney restructured its media operations in October to focus them around streaming.

Walt Disney reported quarterly earnings that topped Wall Street expectations as gains in its streaming media business helped make up the hit to theme park operations and movie releases from the coronavirus pandemic.

Shares of Disney, which closed at a record high of $190.86 in regular trading on Thursday, climbed 3.6% to $197.76 in after-hours trading.

The company posted earnings of 32 cents per share for October through December. Wall Street had expected a loss of 41 cents per share, according to the average forecast of analysts surveyed by Refinitiv.

Quarterly revenue fell to $16.25 billion from $20.88 billion a year earlier, but was still above analysts’ average estimate of about $15.93 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

READ ALSO: With Disney’s 2020 results to be disclosed on Thursday, investors eye streaming new figures

As the coronavirus pandemic drags on, Disney’s theme parks in California, Hong Kong and Paris remain closed and others have limited attendance to allow for social distancing. The movie studio has delayed several major releases as many theaters remain shut.

But investors have welcomed the company’s early success in the streaming video wars dominated by Netflix. The Disney+ streaming service had reached 94.9 million subscribers as of Jan. 2, the company said, up from 86.8 million in early December. Including Hulu and ESPN+, Disney’s paid streaming membership topped 146 million.

“Disney+ has been a massive success and is a testament to Disney’s brand equity and expertise in storytelling,” eMarketer analyst Eric Haggstrom said. “This has been one of the most successful consumer product launches in recent memory.”

Disney restructured its media operations in October to focus them around streaming.

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

The new media and entertainment distribution unit, which includes streaming, the movie studio and traditional TV networks, reported operating income of $1.5 billion, a 2% decline from a year earlier.

At the parks and consumer products division, operating loss from the parks and consumer products business hit $119 million, compared with a profit of $2.52 billion a year earlier.

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

The closures and reduced operations cost about $2.6 billion, Disney estimated.

Looking ahead, the company said it expected costs to comply with government regulations and to implement safety measures at parks and in TV and film production to reach $1 billion in fiscal 2021.

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

The direct-to-consumer and international segment, which houses Disney+, reported an operating loss of $466 million, compared with an operating loss of $1.11 billion in the year-earlier quarter.

Get the best insights about Latin America market in your inbox