What Analysts Are Saying About Disney After Earnings

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Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) reported its fiscal first-quarter financial results after the markets closed on Tuesday. On Wednesday, shares initially jumped at the earnings, but over the course of the day they gave back these gains. Analysts have taken opportunity to weigh in on this entertainment giant, and most had fairly positive reviews.

24/7 Wall St. has included some brief highlights from the earnings report, as well as what analysts are saying after earnings were released.

The Mouse House posted quarterly adjusted EPS of $1.55 and $14.78 billion in revenues. These results compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for EPS of $1.50 and $15.26 billion in revenues. In the same period a year ago, the company reported EPS of $1.63 on revenues of $15.24 billion.

Cable networks revenue dropped 2% and broadcasting networks revenues were flat. Total media networks revenue fell 2% from $6.33 billion to $6.23 billion. Operating income fell 4% from $1.41 billion to $1.36 billion. The drop in media networks operating income was due to higher programming costs at ESPN, among other things.

Broadcasting revenues were flat, but operating income rose 28% to $379 million. The increase was attributed to revenue growth resulting from rate increases while impressions were down due to “lower average viewership” and, “to a lesser extent, fewer units delivered.”

Revenues at Parks and Resorts rose 6% to $4.6 billion and operating income rose 13% to $1.1 billion.

Studio revenues fell 7% to $2.5 billion and operating income slipped $842 million.

Merrill Lynch reiterated a Buy rating with a $125 price objective. The firm believes that Disney shares will outperform peers given their exposure to accelerating Parks & Resorts fundamentals, continued Studio strength with a positive outlook, steady growth at Media Networks and improving profitability at Consumer Products. Merrill Lynch further detailed in its report:

Although DIS sentiment has been pressured on ESPN and NT comp concerns we remain bullish on: (1) Shanghai Disney/China potential, (2) a solid pipeline of theatrical/CP fare, (3) stable-to-low-growth Media Networks (aided by virtual MVPD launches) and (4) bestin- class Parks (w/Avatar Land opening May 27 and Toy Story/Star Wars Land opening CY2019). We anticipate a solid film slate in FY17E (incl. Beauty and the Beast, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Pirates of the Caribbean 5 and Cars 3) and FY18E (Star Wars VIII, Avengers: Infinity War and Untitled Han Solo). With DIS trading at a -10% CY18 P/E discount to the market, we reiterate our Buy rating on shares.

Argus maintained a Buy rating for Disney with a $129 price target. In its report, this independent research firm commented:

With its investment in Major League Baseball’s BAMTech platform, Disney is clearly moving toward the development of its own over-the-top streaming ESPN video service. While this may not end the debate over ESPN’s place in the emerging/converging cable/OTT distribution landscape, we see the BAMTech deal as a major step in the right direction and as a hedge against further traditional cable subscriber losses. Although increased investment in Shanghai Disneyland and other projects has weighed on earnings, Disney is also positioning itself for long-term growth. However, Disney has warned that it expects only ‘modest growth’ in FY17. It also looks for FY17 to be an ‘anomaly’ in the company’s earnings ‘growth trajectory’ due to a tough prior-year comparison and other issues.

Credit Suisse maintained an Outperform rating with a $125 price target. The firm believes that Disney’s first-quarter earnings report had some soft spots, principally in Consumer Products, and management confirmed that growth trends in fiscal 2017 will be soft. But investor focus will likely remain on a reacceleration of growth across the group in 2018 and beyond.

Hilliard Lyons has a long-term Buy rating, but raised its two-year price target to $132 from $120. The firm’s analyst, Jeffrey Thomison, said:

Our target is based on progression of time and a higher forward earnings figure. We have a particularly favorable view on FY18, including a return to growth at ESPN, improved profitability at Shanghai Disney, and a strong film slate. Our target represents a future valuation in line with the current level and the historical average…. Given solid company fundamentals and relatively clean earnings, we believe a price/earnings approach to valuation is most appropriate.

Shares of Disney were last seen up 0.5% at $109.55 on Thursday, with a consensus analyst price target of $115.71 and a 52-week trading range of $86.96 to $111.99.