The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) had a strong quarter. It reported a 29% increase in earnings per share, up to $1.95 from $1.51 in the year-ago period. Overall, the company's EPS has increased by 21% over the past three quarters, getting to $5.60 from $4.63 in 2017.
"We're pleased with our results in the quarter, including a double-digit increase in earnings per share, and excited about the opportunities ahead for continued growth," CEO Robert A. Iger said in the earnings release. "Having earned the overwhelming support of shareholders, we are more enthusiastic about the 21st Century Fox (NASDAQ:FOX) acquisition than ever, and confident in our ability to fully leverage these assets along with our own incredible brands, franchises, and businesses to drive significant value across the entire company."
That's a pretty vague statement, but Iger went into more detail during the company's earnings call. In addition to the Fox deal, he also talked about other key initiatives the company has been working on.
Disney is a machine
The reason the Fox deals makes sense for Disney -- even at the higher price it had to pay -- is that the Mouse House has built a near-perfect machine for getting the most out of intellectual property. The company can take all the new franchises it buys and use them in theme parks, consumer licensing, streaming, and other areas.
"The assets we're buying fit perfectly with our plans to substantially grow our intellectual property portfolio and to bring our products to market in ways that consumers, as well as the creative community, find extremely compelling," said Iger. "The recent reorganization of our company supports this ambitious vision in part by allowing the seamless integration of the businesses, brands, franchises, and executive and creative talent from 21st Century Fox."
Disney is a global powerhouse
The Fox deal will help Disney expand its dominance around the world. Owning more IP and potential blockbuster films will help, but it's important not to forget the value of the television channels Disney is acquiring as well
"Fox Network Group International's 350 channels reach consumers in 170 countries. Star reaches 720 million viewers a month across India and more than 100 other markets," the CEO noted.
Brands are key
Iger talked about the importance of brands in a market where consumers have an incredible amount of choice. He pointed out that Disney's brand extends well beyond its core self-named products.
"We've always believed we have the brands and content to be extremely competitive and to thrive alongside Netflix, Amazon, and anyone else in the market," he said. "And adding the Fox brands and creative assets, such as Searchlight, FX, and National Geographic to Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Lucas Film, and ABC will make our DTC products even more compelling for consumers."
The streaming service moves closer
Disney has already announced plans to launch its own entertainment streaming service to join its ESPN+ sports streaming platform. Iger confirmed that the Netflix rival remained on track for a late-2019 launch.
"We already have numerous original projects currently in various stages of development and production for this platform, including the world's first live-action Star Wars series and new episodes of the Star Wars Clone Wars animated series," he said. "Our robust content pipeline also includes theatrical movies, such as a live action version of Disney's Lady and the Tramp, as well as new series based on popular IP from across the company, such as Disney Channel's High School Musical, and Pixar's Monsters, Inc."
Disney also has unspecified plans for Marvel universe content, and it expects to integrate some of the acquired Fox IP.
Big things are coming
Disney has been an acquirer for years with its purchases of Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm, but the Fox deal is something else entirely. It gives the company an incredible array of new characters -- Iger mentioned Avatar, Marvel's X-Men, The Fantastic Four, Deadpool, Planet of the Apes, and Kingsman -- but also new cable channels, the aforementioned increased global reach, and a lot more. The CEO seemed particularly excited about acquiring National Geographic, as he mentioned the brand several times.
Integrating these assets, of course, won't be simple. Fox has its own studio operations, and some of those will be retained, while others will be merged into the Disney system. In many ways, this is a calm before the storm for the company as it awaits the Fox deal to close and ramps up to launch the entertainment streaming service.