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Disney Earnings: What to Watch on Wednesday

By Beth McKenna - May 6, 2019 at 8:16AM

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The entertainment giant faces tough year-over-year comparables when it reports fiscal second-quarter earnings.

Walt Disney Co. (DIS -0.70%) is slated to report its fiscal second-quarter 2019 results after the market close on Wednesday, May 8.

Investors should keep expectations in check since the entertainment giant faces challenging year-over-year comparables in its movie business, which we'll explore in a moment.

For context, Disney kicked off fiscal 2019 with first-quarter results that were better than many investors probably expected. Revenue was flat with the year-ago period and earnings per share (EPS) adjusted for one-time items edged down 3%. These were solid results given the high year-over-year hurdle stemming mainly from the release of the blockbuster Star Wars: The Last Jedi in the prior-year's period.

Driven by investor enthusiasm about Disney's rapidly evolving business, shares have returned 38.2% over the one-year period through May 3, outpacing the S&P 500's 14.3% return over this period. 

Here's what to watch and expect in Wednesday's report.

Mickey and Minnie Mouse and other Disney characters in front of Cinderella's Castle.

Image source: Disney.

The headline numbers

Here are the year-ago period's results to use as benchmarks:

Metric

Fiscal Q2 2018 Result

Revenue

$14.55 billion 

Adjusted earnings per share (EPS)

$1.84

Data source: Disney.

Disney doesn't provide guidance. For some context (though long-term investors shouldn't place too much importance on Wall Street's short-term estimates), analysts expect the House of Mouse to earn $1.59 per share on revenue of $14.39 billion, representing declines of 13.6% and 1.1% year over year, respectively.

Quarterly results can be expected to be "lumpy," primarily due to the timing of movie releases, along with where major holidays and sporting events fall on the company's fiscal calendar.  

Here's what to expect from Disney's three largest segments.

Media networks: Continue to focus on Fox acquisition and streaming services 

During the quarter, Disney closed on its massive acquisition of Twenty-First Century Fox's entertainment assets. So, investors can likely expect Disney CEO Bob Iger to share more information on the earnings call than he has in the past about this topic, including how the integration process is going.

Iger can also be expected to provide more details about the company's direct-to-consumer streaming services, particularly Disney+, its broader streaming product that's scheduled to launch later this year.

Parks, experiences, and consumer products: Expect continued strength in domestic parks

In recent years, Disney's domestic parks business has been a steady workhorses performing solidly to very well quarter after quarter. Last quarter, visitors to domestic parks increased their average spending 7% year over year, while attendance held steady. With this strong momentum and the opening of major new attractions on the horizon, there's good reason to believe domestic parks will continue to post solid results.

Studio entertainment: Expect tough comparables

Disney faces tough year-over-year comparables in its movie business, driven by the release of Black Panther in the second quarter of last fiscal year. The Marvel movie has raked in about $1.35 billion at the box office, making it the second top-grossing movie worldwide in 2018. A Wrinkle in Time was also released in the second quarter of fiscal 2018, but it generated just over $132 million in theatrical receipts. 

In the second quarter of the current fiscal year, the entertainment titan also released a Marvel hit: Captain Marvel, which has taken in $1.12 billion at the box office and is currently this year's second top-grossing film worldwide. Dumbo (2019) also began gracing the silver screen in the fiscal second quarter, though at the extreme tail end, so it likely will be a bigger contributor to the third quarter's results. The movie has currently grossed about $337 million worldwide. 

For context, in fiscal 2018, the segment's revenue grew 21% and operating income soared 29% year over year.

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