May 6, 2020 - Economy & Business

Why Disney is the stock to watch

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets

Deserted Disney resort in Kissimmee, Fla., on May 5. Photo: Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images

New CEO Bob Chapek had quite a first earnings call on Tuesday, announcing that Disney had seen its earnings fall by 90% in the first quarter. Still, Chapek asserted the company was "confident in our ability to withstand this disruption."

Why it matters: Disney is perhaps more representative of the global economy than any other company on earth and its stock has been one of the few that seems to reflect the damage the COVID-19 pandemic has done.

What it means: Roughly half of Disney's revenue is directly tied to industries that have been shut down, like parks and resorts, advertising and film.

  • As the New York Times notes, the Mouse also has "four TV studios that together produce about 70 shows; 42,000 hotel rooms and time-share units across three continents; the world’s largest licensing business, with annual merchandise sales of $55 billion; a publishing arm that churns out children’s books, magazines and digital products in 68 countries and 45 languages; a chain of 25 Disney English schools in China."
  • That has resulted in Disney's stock falling by around 32% this year.

The intrigue: Disney beat analysts estimates for revenue, at $18 billion, but fell well short of earnings estimates, which at only 60 cents per share were well below expectations of 91 cents and less than half of what analysts were expecting a month ago.

  • The big earnings miss came despite having already taken major steps to cut costs, including furloughing 100,000 employees.

Yes, but: The one bright spot has been Disney+, which Disney now says has 54.5 million subscribers.

  • That less than one-third of streaming rival Netflix, but Netflix's stock is now four times the price of Disney's and Netflix has no other revenue streams, temporarily shuttered or otherwise.
  • Netflix's market cap has now grown to $186.8 billion, exceeding Disney's $182.5 billion, according to FactSet data.

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