Disney Earnings Hampered by Cable, Streaming Costs

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The Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) reported fiscal first-quarter 2019 results after markets closed Tuesday afternoon. The entertainment giant posted quarterly adjusted EPS of $1.84 and $15.3 billion in revenues. In the same period a year ago, the company reported EPS of $1.89 on revenues of $15.35 billion. First-quarter results compare to consensus estimates for EPS of $1.55 and $15.18 billion in revenues.

Adjusted EPS includes a $1.6 million net benefit in the first quarter of last year related to the federal tax cut tax expense. On a GAAP basis, Disney posted EPS of $1.86.

Media networks revenue increased 7%, a combination of a 12% increase at the company’s broadcasting networks and 4% at its cable networks, primarily. Income dipped 6% at cable networks, primarily attributable to ESPN, and rose by 40% at broadcast networks. Disney Channels income helped offset the decline at ESPN.

Total media networks operating income rose 7% from $1.24 billion to $1.33 billion year over year in the quarter.

CEO Robert Iger said:

After a solid first quarter, with diluted EPS of $1.86, we look forward to the transformative year ahead, including the successful completion of our 21st Century Fox acquisition and the launch of our Disney+ streaming service. Building a robust direct-to-consumer business is our top priority, and we continue to invest in exceptional content and innovative technology to drive our success in this space.

Details about the company’s acquisition of substantial assets from Twenty-First Century Fox and the coming launch of its Disney+ streaming product were not mentioned in the earnings release. We’ll have to wait until the conference call for more information.

Revenue from the Parks, Experiences, and Consumer Products segment rose 5% to $6.82 billion and operating income rose 10% to $2.15 billion.

Studio revenues tumbled 27% to $1.82 billion and operating income plunged by 63% to $309 million. First-quarter movies had to compete with a Star Wars and Thor duo that pushed first-quarter 2018 revenues and income through the roof.

Direct-to-consumer and international segment revenues were down 1% year over year and last year’s operating loss of $42 surged to $136 million. The cost of ramping up the company’s ESPN+ streaming product continue to drive costs higher.

The company did not provide guidance for the second fiscal quarter. However, analysts are looking for EPS of $1.88 and revenues of $14.65 billion. For the full year consensus estimates call for EPS of $7.35 and revenues of $63.16 billion.

Shares closed up about 0.8% on Tuesday at $112.66 and added about 1.6% in after-hours trading to $114.50. The stock’s 52-week range is $97.68 to $120.20.  The consensus 12- month price target was $124.70 before the announcement.