Disney (DIS 2.46%) announced the results of its fiscal first quarter after the market close on Tuesday, and there was plenty for investors to sink their teeth into. The company reported revenue of $20.86 billion, up 36% year over year, resulting in adjusted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.53. Both figures topped analysts' consensus estimates, which called for revenue of $20.81 billion and EPS of $1.43.
Keen interest in the top and bottom-line numbers was likely overshadowed by a number of details concerning other aspects of the company's quarterly report. There were plenty of surprises in the earnings release and the conference call that followed. Here are five of the biggest takeaways from Disney's results.
Disney+ is a hit
The long-awaited debut of Disney+ on Nov. 12 pushed the House of Mouse headlong into the streaming wars, resulting in 10 million subscribers by the end of its first day. The strong growth continued through the end of the year, and Disney+ boasted 26.5 million subscribers to close out the quarter -- and it didn't stop there. On the earnings call, CEO Bob Iger revealed that as of Monday, Feb. 3, that number had climbed to 28.6 million.
Viewer numbers will continue to march higher as the service launches in Western Europe, arriving in the U.K. and Ireland, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, and Austria on March 24. In a surprise announcement, Iger said Disney+ would debut in India on March 29 through the company's Hotstar streaming service, which it acquired from 20th Century Fox. This will bring Disney+ to one of the most populous countries in the world, which is sure give the subscriber numbers a jolt.
Hulu is going global
Disney announced late last month that Hulu CEO Randy Freer would step down as the streaming service was integrated into Disney's direct-to-consumer and international business. Iger said that Hulu ended the quarter with 30.4 million subscribers, which climbed to 30.7 million by Monday. The service will get a boost with the addition of FX on Hulu, which will be available for free to subscribers and will make Hulu the exclusive home of all new FX programming.
In response to an analyst question, Iger said that while the company will remain focused on the rollout of Disney+ through 2021, it is planning to begin Hulu's international expansion "probably in 2021 ... after the Disney+ launch" is complete.
ESPN+ is piggybacking on the soaring growth of Disney+
The strong adoption of Disney+ isn't only benefiting the nascent service -- it's also driving demand for Hulu and ESPN+. During Disney's fourth-quarter conference call in early November, Iger said ESPN+ had grown to 3.5 million subscribers. That number soared to 6.6 million to close out the first quarter and jumped to 7.6 million this week -- adding four million subscribers in just three months.
Another unexpected benefit is that the bundling of ESPN+ with Hulu and Disney+ has helped reduce churn rates while increasing conversion from free trials to paying customers -- both of which were better than Disney expected.
Coronavirus is taking a toll
Disney announced late last month that it had temporarily shuttered both the Hong Kong and Shanghai Disneyland Parks to help slow the spread of coronavirus, which has ravaged China and continues to spread worldwide. The outbreak is also hitting the results of a wide variety of businesses.
On the conference call, CFO Christine McCarthy said the closures would "negatively impact second quarter and full-year results," as the parks "typically see strong attendance and occupancy levels due to the timing of the Chinese New Year holiday." Disney is currently estimating that the parks could stay closed for two months and is taking a charge to operating income of $135 million for Shanghai Disney and $40 million for Hong Kong Disney.
Rise of the Resistance is boosting attendance
After back-to-back quarters of year-over-year attendance declines and a full-year dip in guests, visits to Disney's theme parks have returned to growth, spurred higher by the latest Star Wars-themed attraction, Rise of the Resistance. The experience begins in line, immersing visitors in the narrative as they're captured by soldiers of the First Order -- and that's before the ride even begins.
Attendance at Disney's domestic parks were up 2% year over year in the first quarter, while guest spending climbed 10%. Hotels also benefited, as reservations are currently tracking 4% higher and booked rates are pacing up about 10%, attracting a greater share of consumer discretionary spending.