After falling to lows around $90 toward the end of 2016, Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) stock has rebounded to about $110. The recent rise may have some investors anxious for some good reasons to remain bullish on the stock at these levels. Fortunately, Disney management shared some reasons to be optimistic during its Feb. 7 earnings call.
Here are three quotes from the call that investors shouldn't overlook.
Shanghai Disneyland is a hit
One key concern going into Disney's first-quarter update was how the company's $5.5 billion theme park in Shanghai would perform for the company. Launching in 2016, investors were hoping the new resort could be a significant contributor to Disney's parks and resorts segment. If Shanghai Disneyland's initial success is any indication of its potential, it looks like it is going to be a big win for the company.
Disney CEO Bob Iger explained:
One of our biggest success stories in 2016 came from Parks and Resorts, with the opening of Shanghai Disneyland. The park recently proved to be enormously popular with guests celebrating the Chinese New Year -- operating at maximum capacity for virtually the entire holiday period. With the year's two peak seasons now behind us, we have welcomed more than 7 million guests to date. We're thrilled with this performance, and could potentially exceed 10 million in total attendance by the resort's first anniversary. The park's rapidly growing popularity, its extremely high levels of guest satisfaction, and the huge attendance during Chinese New Year, add to our confidence in the resort's ability to reach breakeven in this fiscal year.
A new direct-to-consumer ESPN product is coming in 2017
On several occasions during Disney's first-quarter earnings call, management referred a direct-to-consumer platform for ESPN, using technology it is working on with BAMTech, that the company has in the works. It will be aimed to take advantage of a multi-screen, mobile media environment. But beyond saying the platform will launch sometime this year, Iger wants to keep the details of the program secret.
I just can't comment about pricing. It has been discussed with BAM, but I really can't comment about that, nor can I comment about the specifics, in terms of the time of launch, except to say that the goal is to launch the program -- I'm sorry the platform -- sometime in 2017.
Investors will be watching closely for the platform's launch, hoping it will help reverse declining subscriber growth.
Beauty and the Beast looks like it will be a blockbuster
Last year was a huge year for Disney's Studio Entertainment business, to say the least. Rogue One from the company's Star Wars franchise helped Disney finish calendar year 2016 with four separate billion-dollar box office releases. And now the company expects to land another major hit with its upcoming live-action Beauty and the Beast, premiering in March.
Iger detailed the enthusiasm surrounding the film's launch:
The anticipation and excitement around this movie is astonishing -- the first trailer drew more than 127 million online views in the first 24 hours, breaking the record held by Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and the trailer we released last week also generated more than 100 million views. The first week of ticket presales has also been very strong -- reminiscent of presales for some of our biggest Marvel movies.
Of course, major releases in calendar 2017 won't stop with Beauty and the Beast. Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Pixar's Cars 3, Marvel's Thor: Ragnarok (with a cross-over appearance of the Hulk), and a new original story from Pixar called Coco, are all slated for 2017 as well.
With Shanghai Disneyland performing well, a possible game-changing ESPN direct-to-consumer product around the corner, and major film releases coming in 2017, Disney continues to look like a great stock for investors to hold for the long haul.
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