While there's plenty going on at media giant Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS), the stock seems to have been stuck in neutral in recent years. Cord-cutting has led to declining viewership for its flagship ESPN sports network, as well as its other cable networks, and investors just haven't been feeling entertained. The company has plenty of irons in the fire, though, including hit movies and streaming services.
Disney is scheduled to report financial results for the fiscal second quarter on May 8 after the market closes. Let's look at a few areas that investors will watch closely.
A follow-up to its return to growth?
To review last quarter's performance, Disney's revenue grew to $15.35 billion, up 4% compared to the prior-year quarter, while profits of $4.42 billion were a jump of 78% year over year. This generated earnings per diluted share of $2.91, up 88% compared to the year-ago period. Excluding a one-time benefit from changes to U.S. tax law resulted in adjusted earnings of $1.89, up 22% year over year. These results were mixed, as analysts were expecting EPS of $1.61 on revenue of $15.48 billion.
Disney doesn't provide guidance, but analysts' consensus estimates for the second fiscal quarter are calling for revenue of $14.08 billion and EPS of $1.69. This would represent revenue growth of 5.6% year over year, and EPS up 12.67% over the prior-year quarter.
Beyond the headline financial results, there are several other areas of interest, and lots of reasons for optimism.
There's an app for that
The company's flagship ESPN sports network launched its highly anticipated streaming service, ESPN+, on April 12, and early demand (or lack thereof) will likely be a harbinger. The service, which costs $4.99 per month, features thousands of live games, on-demand sports content, and exclusive originals, and is meant to be a companion service to the linear network, rather than a replacement.
Watch to see if Disney provides information regarding the number of subscribers that signed up for this recent addition to the company's growing streaming family. Investors will also be looking for any updates regarding the launch of the Disney-branded streaming service, which is scheduled to debut late next year.
Since the last financial release, Disney has had two blockbuster theatrical releases, and will be providing updates on the financial ramifications of each.
Shortly after the February earnings report, Disney launched Marvel's Black Panther, which had the fifth-highest opening-weekend domestic box office ever, with $202 million, and has gone on to generate more than $1.33 billion in global ticket sales, ninth all-time.
Lightning struck twice when Marvel's Avengers: Infinity War premiered on April 27. Its $258 million in North American ticket sales represented the No. 1 all-time domestic opening weekend, and its $640 million in global ticket sales took the worldwide title.
Other items in focus
With the acquisition of certain assets from Twenty-First Century Fox (NASDAQ:FOX) (NASDAQ:FOXA) working its way through the regulatory process, expect Disney execs to provide an update on the status of that marriage.
Even with all these other things happening, however, investors and analysts will be carefully watching the media networks segment. While this unit is in secular decline due to a drop in cable subscribers, it still accounted for more than 42% of Disney's revenue last year, and 46% of its operating profit. With that much at stake, it will be the most scrutinized part of the business.
The next few years will be a time of transition for the House of Mouse, and we'll get our first preview next week.