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Cathie Wood Is Buying Disney Stock and Maybe You Should, Too

By Rick Munarriz – Nov 16, 2021 at 9:50AM

Key Points

  • The ARK Next Generation Internet ETF is adding to its Disney stock position for the first time in nearly two months.
  • Disney shares are trading lower in 2021. Only one U.S. company -- Visa -- is larger by market cap and also trading below where it was when the year began.
  • Disney put out a disappointing quarterly report last week, but most of its businesses are getting back on track.

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The future is on sale right now for potential Disney investors.

ARK Invest is as transparent as investment management firms go, and the same can be said about founder and ace stock picker Cathie Wood. The firm publishes nightly reports of all of the buys and sells Wood completed earlier in the day, and sometimes a name jumps out at you.

ARK Invest bought shares of Walt Disney (DIS 1.47%) on Monday, impressive largely because Wood hadn't nibbled on the House of Mouse in nearly two months. With the stock pulling back after a poorly received quarterly update last week, one can argue that Wood is being opportunistic. Let's see if you should follow suit.

Mickey and Minnie Mouse at a parade down Main Street U.S.A.

Image source: Walt Disney.

It's a small world 

Disney is one of ARK Invest's smaller stakes, and even on the surface it seems like an odd fit within Wood's future-minded ARK Next Generation Internet ETF (ARKW 1.25%). It's a hand-me-down family entertainment brand. Mickey Mouse turns 93 this week. However, content is still royalty, and Disney's catalog of popular franchises is pretty much unmatched on the planet. 

Disney isn't at its best right now. It's trading lower in 2021, and there's only one larger U.S. company by market cap that can say the same. Last week's fiscal fourth-quarter report was a miss on both ends of the income statement, and that's just scratching the tip -- and the bottom line -- of the iceberg. 

Disney+ subscriber counts are slowing, and after blistering growth out of the gate it could be suffering through growing pains as it enters the terrible twos. The future of legacy media networks continues to be murky with more and more people canceling their cable and satellite television plans. Disney routinely puts out the biggest box office winners, but movie theater crowds are still not at pre-pandemic levels. And the evolution of premium streaming is still not at the point where it can cover the multiplex shortfall. 

It seems bleak, but that's just one side of the story. Disney's domestic theme parks have returned to profitability, and new initiatives should make it an even more lucrative business in the future. The easing of international travel restrictions earlier this month will also provide a major boost heading into the holidays. The fast-growing success of its Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ streaming platforms -- combining for 38% revenue growth over the past year -- now accounts for nearly a quarter of its total revenue (and 35% of its media and entertainment segment). 

Disney shares may be trading lower in 2021 -- down nearly 13% through Monday's close -- but the entertainment stock bellwether is in much better shape fundamentally than it was when the year began. There are fewer question marks in the pixie dust. 

Disney's cruise ships are sailing again, and next year it will have a fifth vessel added to its fleet. Consumers are spending again, and that not only means more money spent on Disney's consumer products but also by advertisers paying up to reach folks through Disney's media networks. 

Wood's fund is about the future, and Disney has a firm grasp on the days to come. As multiplexes and streaming services grapple with the distribution pecking order, no one is going to come close to the pipeline of future releases of Disney. And its theme parks that dominate the turnstiles worldwide will continue to do so with new tech tools that make the experience more immersive and customized. As exciting as Disney's growth has been with premium streaming services it's a market that's just starting to get penetrated worldwide. 

The future is on sale right now for potential Disney investors. ARK Invest's Wood knows it, and -- deep down inside -- you probably know it, too.

Rick Munarriz owns shares of Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Walt Disney. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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