Disney Earnings Shaved by Rising Costs

Paul Ausick

The Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) reported fiscal third-quarter 2018 results after markets closed Tuesday afternoon. The entertainment giant posted quarterly adjusted EPS of $1.87 and $15.23 billion in revenues. In the same period a year ago, the company reported EPS of $1.58 on revenues of $14.24 billion. First-quarter results compare to consensus estimates for EPS of $1.95 and $15.34 billion in revenues.

Adjusted EPS includes a $110 million tax expense. On a GAAP basis, Disney posted EPS of $1.95.

Cable networks revenue increased 2% and broadcasting networks revenues rose 11%. Disney attributed the increase to higher program sales, affiliate revenue growth and increased network advertising revenue, partially offset by higher programming costs. Operating income from broadcasting rose by 43% to $361 million but fell by 5% in cable networks.

Total media networks revenue was up 5% at $6.16 billion. Operating income fell 1% from $1.84 billion to $1.82 billion year over year in the quarter.

CEO Robert Iger said:

We’re pleased with our results in the quarter, including a double-digit increase in earnings per share, and excited about the opportunities ahead for continued growth. Having earned the overwhelming support of shareholders, we are more enthusiastic about the 21st Century Fox acquisition than ever, and confident in our ability to fully leverage these assets along with our own incredible brands, franchises and businesses to drive significant value across the entire company.

Revenue at Parks and Resorts rose 6% to $5.2 billion and operating income rose 15% to $1.3 billion. The company said that higher operating income was due to increases across key operations and an unfavorable calendar effect on the timing of the Easter holiday. Guest spending drove operating income growth and was the result of higher average ticket prices, food, beverage and merchandise spending and average daily hotel room rates.

Studio revenues jumped 20% to $2.9 billion and operating income increased by 11% to $708 million. Operating income growth was due to increases in domestic theatrical and worldwide distribution results, partially offset by film cost impairments related to animated films that will not be released and lower domestic home entertainment results.

For the fourth fiscal quarter, analysts are looking for EPS of $1.40 and revenues of $13.85 billion. For the full year consensus estimates call for EPS of $7.07 and revenues of $59.03 billion.

Costs increased by about $900 million year over year and have ballooned to $2.2 billion more than the first nine months of last fiscal year. Cost of services rose by about $655 million and SG&A costs rose by $190 million. Investors don’t normally like to see expenses rise. They see it as money that could have gone into their pockets.

Shares closed up about 0.5% on Tuesday at $116.56 but dipped 2.3% in after-hours trading to $113.95. The stock’s 52-week range is $96.20 to $117.90, and the high was posted Tuesday.  The consensus 12-month price target was $117.57 before the announcement.