Earlier today, the Walt Disney Company held arguably one of the most important earnings calls in the history of the company. Led for the first time by new CEO Bob Chapek (with an appearance from Executive Chairman Bob Iger), one major announcement seemed to overshadow the call, but we were able to catch several other notable highlights.
Summer dividend cancelled
Aside from the announcement that $DIS stock was down 30% and the impact to Disney’s Parks, Experiences, and Products was $1 billion, we were also told that the dividend would be suspended, which caused the stock to fall in after hours trading. Interestingly, articles in recent weeks had criticized Disney for retaining their dividend despite furloughing employees…even though the company had not yet declared a dividend in the first place (and now won’t).
Disney+ is coming to Japan in June and has even more subscribers
Disney+, at less than a year old, already has 54.5 million subscribers. However, despite the fact that the numbers are better than expected, Disney will not be updating their guidance and will continue to make the planned investments for the business. Disney+ will also be debuting in Japan in June.
Shanghai Disneyland reopening
The biggest news coming from the earnings call is the reopening of the Shanghai Disneyland Resort, resuming daily operations on May 11th. Full details and changes to the resort’s operation — and what they might suggest about what we can expect here at home — can be found at our article here.
Domestic parks will have to wait
No updates on the reopening of the North American parks were given, with Bob Chapek only suggesting that restaurants and retail (read: Downtown Disney District/Disney Springs) would likely be re-opening before parks. He also believes that no matter what capacity they have when they open, the guests will arrive to fill the parks.
Disney Cruise Line will take a while to resume
Per Bob Chapek, Disney Cruise Line ships will not be running for the next few months, and when asked if this would cause any interruption to future plans for the Cruise Line (and its three new ships) it was suggested that everything was still on track, though it wasn’t confirmed outright.
Disney isn’t abandoning the movie theatre release model
Still believing in the theatrical business, Disney admitted that they may have to make some changes due to changes in the marketplace. In terms of large scale film productions, Disney says they aren’t sure when they will resume but that they will be responsible when they do.
ESPN is finding some success even without live sports
ESPN’s primetime audience was up in April for their key demographic, and found success with The Last Dance and the Virtual NFL Draft. The cable network also plans on rolling out three new films as well as a virtual ESPYs presentation. Chapek says the company still believes in the idea of live sports, and suggested that live sports could be moved over to ABC when there is a shortage of scripted programming.
All in all, with the current events of the world today, this earnings call showed us that there are bright spots with more on the horizon, though some might take just a bit longer to get to.