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2 Dates for Disney Investors to Know in June

By Demitri Kalogeropoulos - May 25, 2016 at 2:00PM

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Why a massive theme park and a singing fish could matter to the stock next month.

June can be a slow time for broadcast television, which anchors Disney's (DIS 1.84%) vast media empire. Still, the entertainment giant owns a collection of revenue sources that help keep results churning higher even as one area of the business struggles.

Disney has a few major property launches ahead that promise to contribute to that positive trend. The theme parks and movie theater divisions are currently contributing more toward profit growth than the media networks segment -- and they're likely to have a big month.

Here are the important dates for shareholders to watch.

June 16: Shanghai Disney's launch

Disney welcomes its first official guests at the Shanghai, China, resort on June 16. It will be the company's most ambitious park launch to date, complete with a Chinese-language production of The Lion King and Disney's biggest castle construction ever. Yet it isn't hard to see why management is happy to pour resources into this park.

Image source: Disney.

The resort sits on the outskirts of the most populous city in the most populous country in the world. For an idea of the sheer scale of the demand potential that creates, consider that there are over 300 million people that live within three and a half hours of Shanghai.

As CEO Bob Iger explained in recent investor conference, those demographics are just incredible. "It would be as though the whole population of the United States could afford a ticket to Orlando and could get there within 3.5 hours no matter what transportation they used," he said.

Investors aren't likely to see anything but losses from this complex in the current fiscal year, and it will take even more time before it contributes substantial profits to the resorts business. But the Shanghai park represents a bold step for Disney's global reach. "Officially welcoming our first guests will be one of the proudest and most exciting moments in the history of this phenomenal company," Iger told investors in early May.

June 17: Extending the $1 billion movie tally

Disney's Pixar launches its second film of 2016, Finding Dory, on June 17. The animated film could find success and take its place as part of the company's strongest movie slate in memory.

Image source: Disney.

The House of Mouse has already made history by topping $1 billion in ticket sales over the first 128 days of the year, according to Box Office Mojo. Marvel's Captain America: Civil War played a key role in that success, but so did Disney Animation's Zootopia and Disney Pictures' The Jungle Book.

Pixar hopes to keep that epic winning streak alive by building on the original Finding Nemo's massive $400 million domestic haul from 13 years ago.

The current quarter likely won't set a record for Disney's studios thanks to a tough comparison against last year's hit, Big Hero 6. But if you zoom out a bit, it's clear that the company is in the middle of an amazing run at the theaters. In fact, it's possible this will be the first year since 2003 that Disney finishes as the No. 1 studio in the country.

The financial benefits of that run are already showing up in earnings results: Operating income in the studio division is up 60% to $1.6 billion over the last six months. But the better news for investors is that box office wins tend to boost licensing demand at the consumer products division, Disney's most profitable segment by far.


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