Unless you've been sleeping like Princess Aurora, you've probably noticed the recent spike in Walt Disney's (NYSE:DIS) share price. The stock has soared nearly 20% since its Disney+ media event three weeks ago, and it hit another all-time intraday high on Monday after the market got a look at the record-breaking box office total for the opening weekend of Avengers: Endgame.
There is really no such thing as a slow month for the media giant these days, but if you thought April was exciting, May will be even more busy. Let's go over some of the events that might determine if this monster rally continues in the month ahead.
If you're a smoker or a fan of super-sized strollers, things are about to change for the worse for you at Disney's domestic theme parks. New restrictions kick in on Wednesday at Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California, among them the elimination of designated smoking zones, and a ban on stroller wagons as well as extremely large strollers.
Social media has been on fire since the measures were announced a month ago. Disney previously led the way on the tobacco front in the 1990s, when it became the first major theme park operator to restrict smoking to designated areas that were located away from the flow of guest traffic. Now, those wishing to smoke or vape will have to exit the park. The policy of preventing parents from bringing stroller wagons and super-sized strollers into its theme parks was made to reduce the congestion on their pathways, as well as to free up space in crowded stroller parking areas. These changes may ultimately do more to drum up scintillating headlines than to impact park attendance in either a positive or negative manner, but investors will still want to pay attention.
It's earnings season, and Disney's fresh financials will arrive shortly after the market close on May 8. This will be the company's first report since it completed its purchase of 21st Century Fox's entertainment assets in late March, but the massive new content addition was only on its books for a handful of days in the period, so it shouldn't move the needle all that much this time. It's Disney's early read on how the combination will perform that will matter more than the actual results.
Analysts aren't holding out for much this time. The average view is for revenue to slip 1.4% to $14.34 billion, with profits taking an even bigger hit. The calendar shift in the Easter holiday -- which moved from March last year to April this year -- will keep theme park returns in check, and the comparisons aren't favorable across most of Disney's other operating segments.
Avengers: Endgame will be a hard act to follow, but the next major Disney-helmed release will be Aladdin on May 24. The live-action reboot of the popular animated classic with Will Smith in the role of the lamp-dwelling Genie that Robin Williams made famous isn't likely to be among Disney's biggest hits by the time 2019 is done. There is understandably more buzz for Toy Story 4, Frozen 2, and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
However, Disney has fared well with previous live-action remakes such as Alice in Wonderland, The Jungle Book, and Beauty and the Beast. And this one will open just ahead of Memorial Day weekend, which has historically has delivered good box office results.
The original Disneyland park in Anaheim will be a pretty busy place on the final day of the month, as its new attraction, Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, debuts. Disney surprised theme park fans by announcing that the ambitious 14-acre expansion will open earlier than expected. The corresponding Disney World debut will follow three months later, but this will just be the first phase of the new land.
Just one of the two potentially bar-raising attractions will open in the first phase, but guests likely won't mind as that first ride in the richly themed section will let them pilot the iconic Millennium Falcon. Disney is setting up a reservations system to keep crowds in check, but it's still going to be a spectacle -- it's the resort's biggest addition since an entire new theme park opened 20 years ago.