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Disney's Reopening Is On Track, But What's Up With the Stock?

By Brian Withers and Toby Bordelon - Updated Jun 25, 2021 at 5:02PM

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A slight miss in Disney+ subscribers disappointed investors, but that's missing the forest for the trees.

Disney (DIS -0.11%) stock has doubled from its pandemic low in March 2020. But with the stock price, it's all about "what have you done for me lately?" Investors were disappointed with a "miss" on the Disney+ subscriber numbers from the most recent quarter, and the stock pulled back a bit after earnings. On this Motley Fool Live episode recorded on May 26, Motley Fool contributors Toby Bordelon and Brian Withers discuss the results from its recent quarter and whether the stock has "priced in" the reopening surge already. 

Toby Bordelon: Let's jump into the next stock here, and lets talk about Disney, what not to love? We got theme parks reopening. What's going on. We have California theme parks are open now. They opened at the end of April. They are heading to full capacity. June 1st of 4th, one of those. I can't remember the exact date, but next week or the week after, they will be at full capacity. This is fantastic.

If you remember to pre-pandemic if you followed Disney, their biggest revenue segment was the theme parks, which also includes the cruise lines. But to have those parks getting back to full capacity is a very good thing. People are coming back to theaters. I saw a recent survey from a movie theater chain or Fandango I believe it was. The percentages are really high in terms of people who are going to theaters who want to go back, who are going to go see multiple movies at summer or plan to. That's a really good sign. Marvel's Phase Four is about to kick off in the theaters. We got a couple of new shows on Disney+ Loki starting up, beginning in June.

But let's talk about one thing. Let's highlight one thing here. The recent earnings report with a little bit disappointing to some investors because of those Disney+ numbers. What were those numbers? They came in at 104 million subscribers, and were expecting 109 million, and so were quibbling at about a five percent difference. When if you look at what's happened in the past year-and-a-half, Disney+ has gone from 0-104 million in about 17 months. That's amazing and I don't want to, I think if you are quibbling over five million, you're missing the point here. They'll outperform Netflix in the quarter in terms of additional subscribers. ESPN+ seems to be growing, which is strange when we think about because that's the one that probably has the least amount of original content. They are doing well, average revenue per user is growing at that at ESPN+ turn, churn at Disney+ is not a problem. They seem to be doing quite well there. I think this company is doing fine. I don't think anyone should worry about this, and future looks good for them.

Brian Withers: That's an exciting update. Toby, I love to see the parks coming back open again. But the market has already priced a lot of this reopening already into the stock. I looked at the stock prices from March of 2020, mid-March when the coronavirus really came in and started to shut things down. Disney [stock] has doubled since then. Do you think we could see Disney shares priced lower a year from now?

Toby Bordelon: It's certainly possible. Like you said, there is a lot of priced in right now. But I think we may be surprised when we get to the end of this year about the rebound surge of the theme parks and the movie theaters. I'm not sure that even with pricing in this reopening trade as it were, that we're really capturing the fullness of what Disney can do.

Look at those theme parks. We got the Star Wars hotel that's opening up, which is a multi-day experience that you stay in this hotel and you don't leave. The new Avengers Campus at Disneyland, I think that's opening up beginning of June as well. There is a lot going on to both bringing people back and to potentially bring in a new segment of people who might not have been big fans of Disneyland, Disney World parks before with The Avengers and Star Wars stuff. This is a major entertainment juggernaut and that's not going to change anytime soon. Maybe you see a little bit of drop-off in the stock price, but it's not something I would worry about really.

Brian Withers has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Toby Bordelon owns shares of Netflix and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Netflix and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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