After being price-range-bound for nearly three years, Disney (DIS -1.39%) stock is on fire. Over the past year, the company's shares have gained more than 35%, more than tripling the 10% gain of the S&P 500, and hitting record highs above $140 per share.
Those lofty gains could just be the beginning, as there are a number of catalysts that could propel the stock even higher in the weeks and months ahead. Let's take a look at three reasons there could be much more to come for Disney in 2019.
1. Avengers: Endgame
Unless you've been living in a cave, it's been nearly impossible to escape the news that the latest installment from the Marvel Cinematic Universe has taken the world by storm. There were signs the film would be a cultural phenomenon when nearly every major ticketing site crashed after being overwhelmed by the number of pre-sale ticket buyers.
Then the inevitable came to pass. Avengers: Endgame made movie history, shattering the records for both domestic and worldwide opening weekend box office. The Avengers assembled an unprecedented $350 million in North American ticket sales and a stunning $1.2 billion in global box office in its first weekend. The movie is expected to cross the $2 billion mark during the second weekend, becoming just the fifth movie in cinematic history to top that lofty threshold.
Even after Earth's mightiest heroes have left the multiplex, they'll still have a contribution to make to Disney's coffers, sparking digital movie and Blu-ray sales and all manner of toys, games, and coffee mugs emblazoned with the likenesses of Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and others. The characters will also be staples at Disney's theme parks for months and years to come, attracting an untold number of guests.
At an investor day in early April, Disney unveiled details about its long-awaited streaming offering, Disney+. Execs from the House of Mouse said the direct-to-consumer service would debut in the U.S. on Nov. 11 for $6.99 per month, or $69.99 per year.
While shareholders were enthusiastic about Disney's entry into the space, they were positively giddy about the sheer volume of content that's being laid on to launch the fledgling service. Disney is stocking the platform with a host of original content, as well as more than 100 recent films, more than 400 library titles, and 7,500 episodes from a variety of television shows. The programming will come from each of Disney's major studios -- Marvel, Pixar, Lucasfilm, and Disney -- and will also feature contributions from Fox and National Geographic.
Disney expects between 60 million and 90 million subscribers by 2024, but the floodgates will open in November.
3. Star Wars
Fans of Star Wars will have a lot to celebrate in the coming months, not the least of which is the upcoming release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker later this year. In the first 24 hours after its release, the teaser trailer logged 111 million views. That's 20 million more than Star Wars: The Last Jedi and more than double the count from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The two previous films in the Skywalker saga generated more than $3.4 billion in box office combined, and the final chapter is already generating significant buzz months before its debut.
It isn't just the upcoming movie that has fans stoked. Disneyland in Anaheim and Disney's Hollywood Studios in Orlando will both be home to 14-acre expansions for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, which will open on May 31 in Anaheim and Aug. 29 in Orlando. Theme park visitors will tour the fictional planet of Batuu with a host of shops and an open-air market, climb aboard and pilot the fan-favorite Millennium Falcon along Smuggler's Run, and have the opportunity to stay at a fully immersive Star Wars-themed hotel.
These attractions will no doubt drive guests to Disney's theme parks, and the segment has been a consistent performer in recent years. For fiscal 2018, it generated revenue of more than $20 billion, up 10% year over year. With the surge of visitors expected to descend when the Star Wars attractions open later this year, the segment will likely see additional healthy gains.