Why Disney Earnings Aren’t Enough

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The Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) reported fiscal fourth-quarter financial results after markets closed on Thursday. Unfortunately, the report this quarter did not live up to expectations and there has been a noticeable lag in the House of Mouse after having such a strong year in 2015. Part of this has been due to cord cutting trends hurting Disney’s Media Networks, but perhaps the biggest drop was seen in Studio Entertainment.

The company had $1.10 in earnings per share (EPS) and $13.14 billion in revenue. There were consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters that called for $1.16 in EPS and $13.52 billion in revenue. The same period from last year had $1.20 in EPS and $13.51 billion in revenue.

In terms of its business segments Disney reported:

  • Media Networks had revenues decrease 3% to $5.66 billion with $1.67 billion in operating income, down 8%.
  • Parks and Resorts reported $4.39 billion in revenue, up 1%, and $699 million in operating income, down 5%.
  • Studio Entertainment had revenues increase 2% to $1.81 billion and operating income decrease 28% to $381 million.
  • Consumer Products & Interactive Media reported revenues down 17% to $1.29 billion and $424 million in operating income, down 5%.

Within the Media Networks segment, operating income at Cable Networks decreased $207 million to $1.4 billion for the quarter due to decreases at ESPN and the Disney Channels, partially offset by an increase at Freeform. The decrease at ESPN reflected lower advertising and affiliate revenue and higher programming and production costs. Lower advertising revenue was primarily due to fewer impressions and lower rates.

Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO of Disney, commented:

We’re very pleased with our performance for the year, delivering the highest revenue, net income and earnings per share in Disney’s history. Fiscal 2016 was our sixth consecutive year of record results, highlighted by the opening of Shanghai Disney Resort, the phenomenally successful return of Star Wars, and our Studio’s record-breaking $7.5 billion in total box office. We remain confident that Disney will continue to deliver strong growth over the long-term as we further strengthen our brands and franchises, our technological capabilities, and our international presence.

Free cash flow for the quarter totaled $8.44 billion. On the books, cash and cash equivalents totaled $4.61 billion at the end of the quarter, versus $4.27 billion at the end of the previous fiscal year.

Shares of Disney closed Thursday at $94.96, with a consensus analyst price target of $106.71 and a 52-week trading range of $86.25 to $120.65. Following the release of the earnings report, the stock was down 3.3% at $91.87 in the after-hours trading session.