Proactiveinvestors United Kingdom The Walt Disney Company Proactiveinvestors United Kingdom The Walt Disney Company RSS feed en Tue, 23 Jul 2019 21:04:26 +0100 Genera CMS (Proactiveinvestors) (Proactiveinvestors) <![CDATA[News - Disney to launch streaming service with Marvel and Star Wars spin-offs at nearly half the price of Netflix ]]> Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS) has unveiled new productions for its own streaming service that will be launched later this year, including Star Wars and Marvel TV spin-offs. 

The streaming service, called Disney Plus, will be available in the US on November 12 at a price of $6.99 a month, nearly half Netflix’s standard $12.99 plan.

READ: European Commission seeks input on investigation into Disney pay-TV commitments

The company plans to make any new film releases exclusive to its platform and has already started pulling its content from other services including Netflix.

New productions 

Disney Plus will feature three new original Marvel TV shows: one that features Tom Hiddleston in the role of Loki from the Thor movies; a series starring Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch and Paul Bettany as Vision from the Avengers films; and another that will feature Falcon, played by Anthony Mackie, from the Captain America franchise.

Disney will also launch a TV series spin-off of the Star Wars film Rogue One, titled The Mandalorian, which will be a spy series with Diego Luna reprising his character of Cassian Andor.

The original and prequel Star Wars films will be on the service.

Disney will stream The Simpsons, after acquiring the rights to the TV show as part of its deal to buy 20th Century Fox entertainment assets last month.

All new and existing Disney TV shows and films will be on the platform, though some of the content won’t be available until current deals with other streaming service providers expire.

Implications of Disney Plus

Analysts at Liberum said: “Disney is not a stock we obviously cover but there are some very interesting implications from their announcement yesterday of the details of their new Disney+ subscription video on demand service (SVOD).”

“For a start, it has been priced very aggressively, nearly half the price of Netflix in the United States.

“Longer-term, the more important implications are that Disney is targeting far more aggressive subscriber growth than anticipated, which raises questions about how local SVOD services such as Britbox (ITV’s SVOD JV with the BBC in the UK) will be impacted, and that Disney is now hoarding its content to use on its SVOD service, which has implications for Pay-TV services (negative) and content producers, which should become more valuable in the developing environment.”

In morning trading in New York, Walt Disney shares were 9.4% higher at $127.57.

 -- Adds share price --

Fri, 12 Apr 2019 08:26:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - European Commission seeks input on investigation into Disney pay-TV commitments ]]> The European Commission has said it is seeking responses on commitments offered by media giAnt Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS) in an investigation into pay-TV contracts.

The Anti-trust watchdog said it was concerned that clauses in contractual deals between six film studios, including Disney and broadcaster Sky PLC (LON:SKY), could prevent programmes being shown across borders.

READ: Disney makes concessions as it seeks European approval for US$71bn Fox takeover

In a statement, the commission said clauses appeared to prevent Sky from allowing EU consumers outside the UK & Ireland from accessing pay-TV services available in the two countries.

The move comes after Disney reported quarterly profits that topped analysts' expectations on Thursday, boosted by summer crowds at its theme parks and large audiences for its Marvel movie Ant-Man and the Wasp.

The company is also scheduled to launch its streaming service, Disney Plus, in late 2019 as a direct challenge to streaming giants such as Netflix Inc (NASDAQ:NFLX) and Amazon Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN).

READ: Netflix reports blowout 3Q results as shares soar

Despite its moniker as the “Netflix Killer”, Netflix chairman and chief executive Reed Hastings said he is looking forward to competing against the House of Mouse.

"We've been competing with Amazon for more than 10 years, so we're used to healthy, strong competition," Hastings told the BBC, "It makes us better".

Fri, 09 Nov 2018 14:13:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Disney makes concessions as it seeks European approval for US$71bn Fox takeover ]]> The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) has offered to make concessions as it tries to allay EU competition concerns over its US$71bn takeover bid for 21st Century Fox Inc’s (NASDAQ:FOXA) entertainment assets.

A filing on the EU regulator’s website revealed that Disney submitted its proposals on Friday, although it did not reveal what the concessions might be.

READ: Disney wins US anti-trust approval for Fox takeover

The Commission has also pushed back the deadline for reviewing the deal by a few weeks to November 11.

It is now expected to ask for feedback from customers and rivals before deciding if the concessions go far enough or whether more compromises are required.

Disney won approval from US regulators back in June after it agreed to sell off Fox’s 22 regional sports networks.

Should it be given the green light, the deal would add X-Men, Avatar and The Simpsons to Disney’s current portfolio of franchises which includes Mickey Mouse, Star Wars and Marvel.

Mon, 15 Oct 2018 13:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Fox and Disney to sell shares in Sky to Comcast ]]> Twenty-First Century Fox Inc (NASDAQ:FOXA) and Walt Disney Co. (NYSE:DIS) have agreed to sell their shares in Sky PLC (LON:SKY) to Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ:CMCA).

Fox, which owns 39% in Sky, had wanted to buy the rest of the shares in the UK broadcast that it does not already own but was outbid by Comcast in an auction on Saturday.

Comcast offered £17.28 per share, which was £1.61 ahead of Fox's bid of £15.67, valuing Sky at about £27.9bn.

Disney is to buy Fox’s entertainment assets, including its stake in Sky, but has decided to sell this holding rather than remain a minority shareholder, paving the way for Comcast to take full control of the firm.

Fox said on Wednesday that it would tender the shares in the Comcast offer.

READ: Disney shareholders give the green light for its acquisition of Fox’s entertainment division

"In light of the premium Comcast has agreed to pay for Sky, we and Disney have decided to sell 21CF's existing 39% holding in Sky to Comcast. We congratulate Comcast on their pending acquisition,” Fox said.

Disney plans to use the proceeds of the share sale, which will be about £11.6bn, to support its acquisition of the Fox assets, to strengthen its balance sheet and invest in content creation.

The acquisition of Fox’s assets is part of Disney’s plan to launch its own video streaming service to take on the likes of Netflix and Amazon. 

As part of the deal, Disney will take over US streaming service Hulu from Fox.

Wed, 26 Sep 2018 15:33:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Disney wins US anti-trust approval for its Twenty-First Century Fox deal ]]> The Walt Disney Company (NYSES:DIS) has won US anti-trust approval to acquire a majority of Twenty-First Century Fox’s (NASDAQ:FOX) assets, according to a Reuters report.

The Justice Department will permit Disney to buy Fox’s assets for US$71.3bn on the condition that it sell 22 regional sports networks.

READ: Clash of the (media) titans: What is driving the Fox, Comcast, Disney bidding war over Sky?

The media titan had said in a regulatory filing last week it was willing to divest some of Fox’s assets if it meant getting regulatory approval for the deal, even if the assets generated up to US$1bn.

The company had previously been willing to divest assets generating around US$500mln.

Disney still has a few more regulatory hoops to jump through before the deal is set in stone.

Shares of Disney were up more than 1% to US$105.48 while shares of Twenty-First Century Fox were also up more than 1% to US$47.98 in Wednesday afternoon trading.

Wed, 27 Jun 2018 13:10:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Disney crushes Wall Street expectations in fiscal 2Q thanks partly to Black Panther's box-office success ]]> The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) trounced analysts’ expectations in the fiscal second quarter thanks partly to the success of its blockbuster hit Black Panther as well as booming revenues from its theme parks.

On an adjusted basis, Disney clocked in with earnings of US$1.84 per share on revenue of $14.55bln, zipping past the US$1.70 per share expected by Wall Street as well as the market’s US$14.11bln revenue projection.

Revenue from Disney’s array of theme parks and resorts jumped 13% in the quarter to US$4.9bn as guests spent more and attendance climbed at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Revenue from Disney’s studio entertainment group, meanwhile, soared 21% to US$2.5bln thanks to the success of the superhero movie Black Panther. The release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi as well as Coco in DVD/Blue-ray also powered sales of Disney’s home entertainment group.

Its media and cable networks group, meanwhile, brought in sales of US$6.14bn compared with the US$6.09bn expected by Wall Street.

READ: Comcast reportedly seeking support from banks to start a bidding war over 21st Century Fox assets

Disney is the talk of much market speculation as Comcast is said to be engaged in discussions with investment banks in a bid to derail Disney’s $52bln deal to acquire most of Twenty-First Century Fox’s assets. Comcast is reported to be considering an all-cash bid of as much as $60bn for 21st Century Fox’s suite of film and television businesses.

In pre-market trade, Disney shares fell slightly to US$101.50.

--Updates share price--

Tue, 08 May 2018 16:36:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Disney recruits Game of Thrones creators to launch new Star Wars films ]]> Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS) said it has hired the creators of Game of Thrones to launch a new series of Star Wars films following a decline in quarterly revenue at its movie business.

David Benioff and D.B. Weiss will write and produce the next round of the popular film franchise. 

The decision to milk Star Wars comes after the company reported a 1% fall in revenue at its movie division in the first quarter. Total revenue increased to US$15.4bn from US$14.8bn last year with its theme parks the only division to post growth. The company's media networks business delivered flat revenue, reflecting a slump at its ABC broadcasting network.

Disney has also been losing pay TV subscribers from its ESPN network as viewers shift to online viewing. In response, it will launch a streaming service for sports fans called ESPN Plus in the spring for US$4.99 per month.

Earnings beat market forecasts 

Earnings per share rose 88% to US$4.4bn or US$2.91 a share in the quarter through December, thanks to a US$1.6bn benefit from Donald Trump's US tax cuts. 

Adjusted for the tax benefit and other items, the company reported earnings of US$1.89 per share, up from US$1.55 last year..

Analysts had expected adjusted earnings of US$1.89 a share and revenue of US$15.5bn.

Last year Disney announced a deal to buy the media assets of 21st Century Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA), including its stake in Sky. The deal is under review by regulators.

READ: Walt Disney confirms deal to buy most of 21st Century Fox's assets

Shares in Disney rose 2.9% to US$109 each in US after-hours trade. 

Wed, 07 Feb 2018 09:16:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Disney to ditch Netflix Inc and launch two streaming services of its own ]]> Streamed media giant Netflix Inc (NASDAQ:NFLX) was dealt a blow as Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS) announced plans last night to launch its own streaming services.

The film studios and theme parks operator said a sport-based streaming service under its ESPN banner would be available next year, while a film and TV offering, featuring original Disney content, would go live in 2019, coinciding with the end of its distribution agreement with Netflix.

Disney has some big releases scheduled for 2019, including Toy Story 4; the sequel to Frozen; and a live action version of The Lion King. All of these will be exclusively on Disney's subscription-video-on-demand service.

Netflix shares fell 3.0% to US$172.95 in after-hours trading, while Disney shares fell 3.8% to US$102.92 on the back of weak fiscal third quarter results.

Disney also announced it would pay US$1.58bn to acquire an additional 42% holding in streaming technology company BAMTech, taking its stake up to 75$. BAMTech was created by Major League Baseball.

“The media landscape is increasingly defined by direct relationships between content creators and consumers, and our control of BAMTech’s full array of innovative technology will give us the power to forge those connections, along with the flexibility to quickly adapt to shifts in the market,” said Robert Iger, chairman and chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company. 

“This acquisition and the launch of our direct-to-consumer services mark an entirely new growth strategy for the company, one that takes advantage of the incredible opportunity that changing technology provides us to leverage the strength of our great brands,” Iger gushed.

Disney's third quarter earnings were underwhelming, with net income down 9% from a year earlier at US$2.37bn.

Adjusted earnings per share topped expectations by three cents at US$1.58, but revenue of US$14.2bn was a shade below the US$14.5bn the market had been expecting.

Interestingly, the media networks unit, which includes ESPN as well as the ABC network, saw operating income slide 22% from a year earlier to US$1.84bn, making it the fifth quarter in succession that the division's operating income had fallen, reflecting lower advertising revenues; a subscription-based service is less reliant on advertising revenues, which may explain why Disney is severing its relationship with Netflix and going it alone.

“The potential ramifications from this are huge, particularly for the pay-TV industry, which now faces the threat of disintermediation if others follow. It also emphasises, again, the importance of owning content that people want,” said the media team at Liberum.

The broker said the decision threatens the pay-TV model.

Historically, content producers have been happy to farm out their catalogues to the pay-TV companies because the cost of reaching the consumer directly has been too high, Liberum opined, adding that the advent of streaming services has drastically reduced the cost of reaching consumers directly.

“We suspect other big content providers are thinking of going down the Disney route,” Liberum revealed.

“If you own content that consumers want, you are in a strong position. It is not hard, for example, to imagine the Premier League deciding, at some point, it makes more sense to go directly to consumers, which also gives it leverage in any negotiations over the cost of the rights. It may also not be coincidence that Netflix made its first acquisition, of a comic content company, in the same week as Disney’s announcement. That may indicate that pay-TV companies now expand their efforts to acquire content,” Liberum said.

The UK broker reckons that London-listed Sky PLC (LON:SKY) is the European media stock most likely to be affected by this trend, given the relatively strong importance of US content to its pay-TV offering, the potential for its major sport providers to consider a direct-to-consumers route and the fact that the UK pay-TV is probably the most cut-throat of the subscription-based content markets at the moment.

It noted that terrestrial broadcaster ITV plc (LON:ITV) is well-placed to benefit from the “content is king” paradigm, as is Peppa Pig maker Entertainment One Ltd (LON:ETO).

--- adds broker comment ---


Wed, 09 Aug 2017 04:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - The Force continues to be strong for Walt Disney as first ’Star Wars’ spin-off movie opens big ]]> The Force continues to be strong for The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) after the first ’Star Wars’ spin-off movie ‘Rogue One’ took a massive $290.5mln (£232.8mln) globally on its opening weekend.

The takings were the second biggest-ever for a December opening weekend in both the US and Canada and the UK.

The record is held by predecessor, ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’, which took $248mln (£198mln) on its December debut in the US and Canada last year.

Rogue One took £16.8mln at the UK box office and $155mln (£124mln) in North America.

The only major Asian market showing ‘Rogue One’ so far is Japan, where the movie grossed $7.9mln. The movie will begin screening in South Korea on December 28 and in China on January 6.

Rogue One takes place between Star Wars Episode III and Episode IV, and is the first of three planned spin-off films based on the epic movies.

On its website, Disney said the film is the first standalone Star Wars story “but by no means the last, with an untitled Han Solo movie set for release in 2018.”

It added that “expanding Star Wars beyond the 'Episode' films was a goal of Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger’s from the moment Disney agreed to acquire Lucasfilm in 2012.”

Mon, 19 Dec 2016 14:01:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Disney celebrates as Star Wars breaks box office records ]]> Shares in film giant Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) rose on Monday after new blockbuster Star Wars broke box office records since its release last Thursday.

The stock rose in early trading in New York after Star Wars: The Force Awakens hit all-time highs with an estimated US$517mln in global ticket sales..

The eagerly awaited latest instalment in the Star Wars series rang up a record US$238mln of US and Canadian box office takings.

Analysts said the Star Wars success would come as a much-needed boost to Disney, whose sports broadcasting business ESPN has faced falling subscriber numbers.

They reckon it may make $2bn for Disney over time, against US$1.7bn for Jurassic World.

The early success of the film is also likely to spell good news for UK and central European cinema chain Cineworld (LON:CINE).

Stockbroker Hargreaves Lansdown said: "In its last trading update, management highlighted that two forthcoming major releases - Star Wars: The Force Awakens and latest Bond movie Spectre - were likely to be big draws at the box office."

Hargreaves said analyst consensus opinion on Cineworld pointed to a 'buy'. Shares in Cineworld rose 6.5p to 547.5p.

Disney bought Star Wars maker Lucasfilm for US$4bn in 2012 as part of a drive to focus on big-ticket movies. The Force Awakens is the seventh in the series created by George Lucas in 1977.

The film is being tipped to top the record achievement of Avatar in grossing US$2.8bn in global sales.

Mon, 21 Dec 2015 15:15:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Walt Disney cuts profit outlook, posts Q3 revenue miss ]]> Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) tumbled in morning trading after the world's largest entertainment company cut its profit outlook and posted fiscal third-quarter revenue below Wall Street projections.

Shares of the Burbank, California-based company fell 8.3 percent to $111.54, paring this year’s rally to 18 percent.

The media company now expects annual operating income growth at the unit in the mid-single digits for fiscal years 2013 to 2016, chief financial officer Christine McCarthy said on a conference call yesterday. It previously had forecast growth in the high single digits.

The company is facing two challenges: fewer subscribers at cable networks such as ESPN, its biggest business, and foreign exchange losses from the strong dollar that are cutting results for both cable TV and international theme parks. 

Revenue rose to $13.10 billion in the quarter ended June 27, from $12.47 billion, shy of the $13.23 billion projected by industry analysts.

Overall net income climbed to $2.48 billion, or $1.45 per share, from $2.25 billion, or $1.28 per share last year. Analysts on average expected a profit of $1.42 per share, according to Capital IQ.

Operating profit at theme parks rose 9 percent to $922 billion in the third quarter as attendance and spending rose at U.S. parks.

Operating income at media networks rose 4 percent to $2.38 billion in the quarter as cable channels brought in higher fees from distributors. The media networks segment includes ESPN, the Disney Channels and the ABC broadcast network. 

ESPN is wrestling with a shrinking subscriber base and rising program costs. The network’s pay-TV customers declined 4.3 percent to 94.6 million last year from 98.8 million in 2012, according to SNL Kagan data.

Earnings at cable networks rose 7 percent to $2.08 billion.

Profits in consumer products, from licensing Disney characters such Mickey Mouse and Iron Man to toymakers and other manufacturers, grew 27 percent to $348 million. 

Studio profit increased 15 percent to $472 million.

Wed, 05 Aug 2015 10:09:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Walt Disney climbs after buying Maker Studios for $500 mln ]]> Walt Disney Co. (NYSE:DIS), the world's largest entertainment company, advanced in pre-market trading after agreeing to acquire Maker Studios, a supplier of online video content to YouTube, for at least $500 million.

Disney climbed 1.2 percent to $80.42 at 9:01 a.m. in New York. The stock had gained 4 percent this year before today.

Walt Disney said it would pay up to $450 million more in bonuses if Maker meets performance targets, the Burbank, California–based company said in a statement late yesterday. The transaction is expected to close in Disney's third fiscal quarter.

The Maker transaction is Disney's biggest acquisition since it bought "Star Wars" creator Lucasfilm Ltd. for $4.06 billion in late 2012.

Earlier this month, Time Warner Inc.'s (NYSE:TWX) Warner Bros. led an $18 million investment into videogamer network Machinima. Last year, DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. (NASDAQ:DWA) bought the AwesomenessTV network for $33 million, with a bonus potential of $117 million if the studio met earnings targets over two years.

The takeover will give Disney ownership of 55,000 channels—including Epic Rap Battles of History and makeup expert Amy Pham's The Fashion Statement. Combined, Maker has 380 million subscribers and generates 5.5 billion views per month.

Maker, founded in 2009, is one of the largest video production networks on Google Inc.'s (NASDAQ:GOOG) YouTube. Its producers target the younger millennial generation, known for its high appetite for online video.

"Short-form online video is growing at an astonishing pace and with Maker Studios, Disney will now be at the center of this dynamic industry," Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger said in a statement.



Tue, 25 Mar 2014 09:29:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Walt Disney slips on lower profit from ESPN division ]]> Walt Disney  Co. (NYSE:DIS), the world's largest entertainment company, declined in extended trading yesterday after reporting lower income at cable networks including ESPN.

The shares dropped 1.7 percent to C$67.15 at 7:59 p.m. in New York. The stock closed down 2.7 percent at market close, trimming this year's gains to approximately 35 percent.

Net income in the three months that ended Sept. 28 rose to $1.39 billion, or 77 cents a share, from $1.24 billion, or 68 cents a share, in the same months a year earlier, the Burbank, California-based company said in a statement yesterday. R

Revenue grew 7 percent to $11.57 billion. Analysts had expected earnings of 76 cents a share on revenue of $11.4 billion, according to FactSet.

Revenue at Disney's pay TV networks, including ESPN, gained a tepid 1 percent to $3.57 billion, largely because a big chunk of fees from distributors came in the previous quarter due to meeting its audience obligations early. The unit's profit fell 7 percent.

In a post-earnings conference call, Chief Financial Officer Jay Rasulo said, excluding that fee-timing issue, revenue and profits would have been up 6 percent. While ESPN's growth was even better than that, heavy investment in programming at the part-owned A&E Networks and on a free-to-air channel in Germany "is depressing the average." 

Parks and resorts revenue grew 8 percent to $3.72 billion as visitors spent more in the U.S.

Interactive revenue more than doubled to $396 million, as the division squeaked out a profit of $16 million, its second quarter in the black since results began being broken out for the unit in late 2008. Disney said it sold more than 1 million "Infinity" starter packs globally and has high hopes for the holiday season.

Disney said that popular films such as “Planes” and “Monsters University” led to growth at the consumer products division. The unit boosted profit by 30 percent to $347 million, with sales growing 14 percent. The results were also driven by sales of merchandise tied to the Disney Junior cable network for preschoolers. They doubled to $1.8 billion at retail for the fiscal year.

Disney’s film studio increased its profit to $108 million from $80 million as revenue grew 7.4 percent, while weathering a loss on the Johnny Depp film “The Lone Ranger.” The company credited growth from television and subscription video on demand services, such as Netflix Inc. (NFLX:US)

Disney said it will produce four Marvel superhero TV series for Netflix, leveraging a brand that has produced box-office-leading returns for the company. Disney will also make more original content for other outlets. 




Fri, 08 Nov 2013 07:02:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Disney to start layoffs at studio, consumer product units - REPORT ]]>  

Shares of The Walt Disney Co. (NYSE:DIS) were lower in premarket hours Friday, after a Reuters report said the company is planning to begin layoffs at its studio and consumer product divisions within the next two weeks.

Citing “two people with knowledge of the matter”, the report said that studio job cuts will be focused on the company’s marketing and home video units and includes a small number from the animation wing.

Reuters said its sources spoke on condition of anonymity, and it is unclear exactly how many jobs will be cut at either division.

In January this year, Reuters reported that Disney had begun an internal cost cutting review to eliminate jobs it no longer needs because of improvements in technology. The news outlet again cited “three people with knowledge of the effort”, as the internal review was not disclosed by the company.

On Wednesday, Disney and Lucasfilm, which it acquired last year, said that internal game development at LucasArts would cease, resulting in “layoffs across the organization”.

“After evaluating our position in the games market, we’ve decided to shift LucasArts from an internal development to a licensing model, minimizing the company’s risk while achieving a broader portfolio of quality Star Wars games,” read a statement issued by Lucasfilm. 

Disney also cut about 200 jobs at its Disney Interactive video game last year, as it began to shift focus to online and mobile entertainment. An additional 100 jobs have been laid off in two cuts since, according to Reuters.

Shares of Disney were lower by 1.44 per cent as at about 9 a.m. EDT, trading at $56.76.


Fri, 05 Apr 2013 09:06:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Disney feels the Force as it buys Lucasfilm for $4.05 bln ]]> The Walt Disney Co. (NYSE:DIS) late Tuesday stunned movie fans as it announced the acquisition of Lucasfilm - home of the 'Star Wars' franchise - for $4.05 billion.

The company also announced that a new movie in the science fiction franchise with the working title of "Episode 7" is set for release in 2015 with Episodes 8 and 9 to follow. Disney plans a new Star Wars movie every two or three years with Lucasfilm founder and filmmaker George Lucas acting as "creative consultant".

"For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next," Lucasfilm chairman and CEO George Lucas said. 

"It's now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers. I’ve always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime.”

The deal marks the third time in less than seven years that Disney took over a studio or character portfolio part of a strategy to acquire brands that can be stretched across multiple media platforms.

In early 2006, Disney struck a deal to acquire 'Toy Story' creator Pixar, and in 2009 it bought the comic book powerhouse Marvel Entertainment, home to superheroes such as Spiderman and The X-Men.

Disney will pay about half the purchase price in cash and issue about 40 million shares at closing. George Lucas, who set up Lucasfilm in the early 1970's, will become the second-largest individual Disney shareholder with a 2.2 per cent stake.

Disney CEO Bob Iger added: "This is one of the greatest entertainment properties of all time." 

Like Disney's purchases of Marvel and Pixar studio, LucasFilm will "drive long-term value to our shareholders," Iger said.

Disney CFO Jay Rasulo said the deal would lower Disney's earnings per share by a low single-digits percentage in 2013 and 2014, adding that the company would repurchase all of the issued shares on the open market within the next two years, on top of planned buybacks.

Independent filmmaker Kevin Smith, an acknowledged fan of the 'Star Wars' franchise which has been referenced throughout his movies, commented on Facebook that the deal might be part of a strategy to acquire media assets that will appeal to a demographic that is new to Disney.

"So rather than develop their own boys brand in-house, they started buying "boy" stuff. It started with Marvel and it now continues with the world of Star Wars."

The deal also includes Lucasfilm’s special effects companies Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound as well as rights to the 'Indiana Jones' franchise.

Analysts gave the deal a thumbs up, with Evercore Partners reaffirming its "Overweight" rating on Disney stock.

Earlier this year Disney recorded an "earnings smash" in its fiscal third quarter thanks to the success of "The Avengers", a team of superheroes that includes the Hulk, Iron Man and Thor. That success was more than enough to cover losses generated by "John Carter", a sci-fi action movie that bombed at the box office.

Wed, 31 Oct 2012 08:53:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - "The Avengers" helps Disney deliver Q3 earnings smash ]]> Walt Disney Co. (NYSE:DIS) said late Tuesday that fiscal third-quarter profits rose 31 per cent on improved earnings at its theme parks and the performance of superhero movie "The Avengers".

The entertainment giant, which is also the home of Mickey Mouse, said for the three months ended June 30, it earned $1.83 billion, or $1.01 per share, compared with a profit of $1.47 billion, or 77 cents, a year ago. Excluding items, earnings were $1.01 versus 78 cents per share in the year-earlier quarter.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were expecting a profit of 93 cents per share on revenue of $1.13 billion.

“We had a phenomenal third quarter, delivering the largest quarterly earnings in the history of our company,” said Disney's chairman and CEO Robert A. Iger.

“We also delivered record earnings per share for the first nine months of our fiscal year, and we believe our results clearly demonstrate Disney’s unique value proposition and great potential to deliver long-term growth.”

Operating income at Disney's cable networks, including ESPN and Disney Channel, increased one per cent to $1.9 billion for the quarter, with growth at the domestic Disney Channels and ABC Family, partially offset by a decrease at ESPN.

The decrease at ESPN was driven by lower recognition of deferred affiliate fees related to annual programming commitments, which shifted $139 million of affiliate revenue to the first and second quarter of the current year as compared to the third quarter of the prior year.

At the theme parks and resorts unit, operating income rose 21 per cent to $630 million on by increases at Tokyo Disney Resort, Disney Cruise Line and the domestic parks and resorts.

Increased guest spending at domestic parks reflected higher average ticket prices, food, beverage and merchandise spending, and daily hotel room rates. Higher costs were driven by labor cost inflation, resort expansion and new guest offerings, and increased investments in systems infrastructure at Walt Disney World Resort. 

Revenue rose four per cent, driven by The Avengers, which has made more than $1.4 billion worldwide and pushed studio income up over 50 per cent to $313 million from $49 million a year earlier.

Disney has announced plans for an "Avengers" sequel and is planning to develop a Marvel-based TV series for the ABC broadcast network.

Shares of the company were down 1.22 per cent pre-market, trading at $49.20.

Wed, 08 Aug 2012 08:59:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Disney Q2 profit rises 21% on parks, TV networks ]]> Walt Disney Co. (NYSE:DIS) said late Tuesday that fiscal second-quarter earnings rose 21 percent on improved earnings at its ESPN and ABC television networks and theme parks.

The entertainment giant said for the three months ended March 31, it earned $1.14 billion, or 63 cents per share, compared with a profit of $942 million, or 49 cents, a year ago. Excluding items, Disney said it would have earned 58 cents per share.

Analysts polled by FactSet Research were expecting a profit of 55 cents per share on revenue of $9.56 billion.

"With 18 percent adjusted growth in earnings per share, we’re pleased with our second quarter performance," said Disney's chairman and CEO Robert A. Iger.

"We’re incredibly optimistic about our future, given the strength of our core brands, Disney, Pixar, Marvel, ESPN, and ABC, and our extraordinary ability to grow franchises across our businesses, such as The Avengers, which shattered domestic box office records with a $207.1 million opening weekend for a global performance of more than $702 million to date."

Operating income at Disney's cable networks, including ESPN and Disney Channel, rose 11 percent to $1.5 billion on greater fees paid to ESPN by cable and satellite companies, as well as higher advertising revenue.

Earnings at ABC increased by 37 percent on the absence of costs related to "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and improved ad sales.

At the theme parks and resorts unit, operating income rose 53 percent to $222 million on increased guest spending, reflecting higher average ticket prices, daily hotel room rates and food, beverage and merchandise spending.

Revenue rose 10 percent, driven by better results at the U.S. domestic parks and resorts, Tokyo Disney and Hong Kong Disneyland.

The company is in the midst of a multi-year peak in what it spends developing its parks and resorts business. It launched a new cruise ship, the Disney Fantasy, in March and will open the 12-acre Cars Land expansion at Disney's California Adventure in June.

The gradual roll-back of recession-induced discounts is helping results.

Disney’s movie and television studios swung to a loss of $84 million from a profit of $77 million, as results were hampered by the failure of the action film "John Carter".

Thanks to the success of "The Avengers", Disney may be able to recoup some of its movie losses. Iger confirmed that "The Avengers" will get a sequel.

Merchandise related to the Marvel movie was sold out in many locations following its April 25 release overseas, the company said. Disney bought comic book publisher Marvel for $4.24 billion in December 2009 as it sought to build up its appeal with boys.

Wed, 09 May 2012 07:53:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - The Avengers on pace to be Disney’s highest grossing film ]]> After a big-time opening at the box-office this weekend, reports are speculating that Disney’s (NYSE:DIS) “The Avengers” could be the company's highest grossing film ever.

The Avengers, a mash-up of Marvel comic heroes, sold $200.3 million in domestic box office tickets over the weekend, easily topping the previous record of $169.2 million set by "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" last July.

Disney – and Hollywood, for that matter – have been waiting for a hero like “The Avengers” to come along, with Disney hurting from its recent box-office flop “John Carter”, and Hollywood reportedly posting its worst year for ticket sales in 16 years.

Disney gained the rights to the legendary characters with its $4 billion purchase of comic book publisher Marvel three years ago. The three movies made with Marvel characters have grossed $1.4 billion worldwide.

With its strong start, “The Avengers” is projected to top the $1.07 billion in worldwide box office sales posted by “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” which has reigned as Disney’s biggest movie since 2006.

According to a Reuters report, Paramount could also benefit from “The Avengers” success, as under a 2005 distribution agreement between Paramount and Marvel, Paramount receives a fee for the theatrical distribution of the film, as well as the distribution of home video, internet and TV rights.

That agreement transferred to Disney when it acquired Marvel.

Disney and Paramount agreed in 2010 to amend the initial deal, giving Disney the rights to distribute Marvel-produced "The Avengers" and "Iron Man 3," the second sequel to the 2008 film that Paramount distributes.

That agreement stipulated that Disney would pay Paramount a $115 million advance against future fees that Paramount would have earned, according to Reuters.

Disney shares were up 1.30 percent Monday afternoon, trading at $43.48.

Mon, 07 May 2012 12:21:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Disney loses $200 mln on sci-fi movie "John Carter" ]]> The Walt Disney Co. (NYSE:DIS) said Tuesday that its sci-fi action movie "John Carter" will generate an operating loss of about
$200 million, making the movie amongst Hollywood's biggest money-losers.

As a result, its studio operations will have an operating loss of $80 to $120 million dollars for the fiscal second quarter.

Directed by Pixar's Andrew Stanton, the movie sees American Civil War veteran John Carter transported to Mars.

Disney said "John Carter" has brought in about $184 million in ticket sales worldwide so far compared to its $250 million budget and with an extra $100 million spent on marketing the movie. The movie was based on a series of books written by Edgar Rice
Burroughs, the creator of Tarzan, in 1912.

The movie has scored average reviews and its poor reception was a shock given Stanton's directing success with Disney family movies such as "Finding Nemo" and "Wall-E".

The flop ranks with history's biggest box office disasters, although it's tough to rank them precisely because of inflation and incomplete disclosure.

Disney's 2011 computer-animated movie "Mars Needs Moms" cost about $150 million to make but only sold $40 million in tickets worldwide while Warner Bros.' "Speed Racer" from 2008 cost about $120 million but took in only about $94 million at the box office.

In order to break even, Disney's "John Carter" had to take in around $600 million worldwide, according to some industry analysts.

Later this year, Disney hopes to overcome the setback with other big-budget movies such as comic book-themed "The Avengers" from its Marvel subsidiary in May and Pixar's "Brave" in June.

Tue, 20 Mar 2012 08:44:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Disney's fiscal Q1 earnings miss estimates ]]> The Walt Disney Co. (NYSE:DIS) said late Tuesday that fiscal first-quarter income rose 12 percent as a slimmer movie slate and upbeat theme park results helped the company top earnings forecasts even while revenue gains were less than expected.

Net income for the quarter ended December 31 rose to $1.46 billion, or 80 cents per share, from $1.30 billion, or 68 cents per share, a year earlier. The results beat the 71 cents per share expected by analysts polled by FactSet.

Revenue at the House of the Mouse was up 1 percent to $10.78 billion from $10.72 billion. The revenue figure fell short of the $11.20 billion expected by analysts.

Disney chief executive Bob Iger said: "Our results reflect the benefits of our ongoing strategy to invest in and leverage our core brands — Disney, Pixar, Marvel, ESPN and ABC."

Fees paid by distributors of ESPN rose, but advertising revenue at ESPN and broadcast network ABC was flat. Adjusting for the switch of the Rose and Fiesta college football bowl games to the second quarter and a delayed start to the NBA basketball season, ESPN ad revenue rose 8 percent.

Disney's movie studio revenue fell because it released fewer big films than in past years, in an effort to avoid write-downs on money-losers. Disney released "The Muppets" in the most recent holiday quarter, versus "Tangled" and "Tron: Legacy" a year ago. It also experienced a dip in sales of DVDs.

Interactive media revenue declined, too, as the company moved away from expensive console games and focused on cheaper-to-make social games. Iger said he believes the segment will finally turn a profit in the company's 2013 fiscal year.

Revenue at the company's parks and resorts division grew, thanks to higher spending and attendance at domestic theme parks, and the opening of Toy Story Land at Hong Kong Disneyland in November. Consumer products revenue grew.

The company is on track to spend several hundred million dollars more than a year ago on capital expenditures, including for its fourth cruise ship, the Disney Fantasy, which makes its maiden voyage next month.

Wed, 08 Feb 2012 07:55:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Disney Q4 profits up 30% on theme park, media operations ]]> The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) late Thursday posted a 30 percent gain in fourth-quarter profits, driven by growth in its theme park resorts and media network divisions, beating market expectations  

The Burbank, California-based company's stock gained 7.19 percent to reach $37.13 a share Friday as investors applauded the news.

For the three months ended October 1, the world’s largest theme park operator said revenue grew seven percent to $10.4 billion from $9.7 billion. Net income soared 30 percent to $1 billion, or 58 cents per share, versus a year earlier profit of $835 million, or 43 cents per share.

Excluding impairment and restructuring charges of $55 million, adjusted earnings came in at 59 cents per share.

The latest results are in line with analyst expectations on earnings of 54 cents with revenues of $10.3 million, according to Thomson Reuters.

Disney chief executive Robert Iger said: "Fiscal 2011 was a great year financially and strategically, demonstrating the strength of our brands and businesses with record revenue, net income and earnings per share.

"We are confident the company is well-positioned to deliver long-term value for our shareholders with our focus on quality content, compelling uses of technology and global asset growth."

Revenues at its media networks segment – which includes ESPN, ABC and the Disney Channel rose nine percent to $4.8 billion. It saw operating income climb 20 percent to $1.5 billion.

The results were fuelled by sales of Disney Channel programming and higher fees paid by cable and satellite distributors, as well as advertising growth internationally.

Its parks and resort segment witnessed quarterly sales jump 11 percent to $3.1 billion from $2.8 billion recorded a year-ago.

Operating income spiked 33 percent to reach $421 million. Disney credited a rise in ticket prices and guest spending, including higher room rates.

The studio entertainment unit slid by eight percent to $1.5 billion, while operating income went up by 13 percent to $117 million.

Disney accredits lower film cost write-downs and improved domestic theatrical results, partly offset by decreased international theatrical and global home entertainment results.

Consumer products grew 12 percent to $816 million, and saw operating income climb 13 percent to $207 million. The increase was driven by higher merchandise licensing sales and reflects strong performance of cars and Marvel merchandise.

Disney's interactive group reported a 19 percent gain in revenue, which rose to $223 million. Operating losses for fell to $94 million, compared with $104 million a year earlier.

Iger said the interactive unit plans to introduce eight social networking games in the coming year, taking advantage of established Disney and Marvel brands, as well as creating original characters.

The company said it expects its interactive media segment to post a profit in 2013.

Fri, 11 Nov 2011 11:12:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Walt Disney shares fall on disappointing Q2 results ]]> Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) shares fell as much as 6% on Wednesday after the company reported late yesterday a drop in second quarter earnings due to the box office failure Mars Needs Moms, and the recent crisis in Japan.

For the three months ending April 2, the California-based company reported net income of US$942 million, or 49 cents per share, compared to $953 million, or 48 cents a share, in the year-ago period.

The results missed analyst expectations of 57 cents per share by a wide margin.

Revenue, however, grew 6% to $9.08 billion from US$8.6 billion in the comparable year-period, but still came in below analyst estimates of $9.12 billion.

Disney said the poor performance of 'Mars needs Moms' caused it to take higher film cost write-downs for this quarter, while results from the year-ago period also included significant home-video proceeds from the first two Toy Story films.

As a result, studio entertainment revenues for the quarter decreased 13% to $1.3 billion and segment operating income dropped 65% to $77 million.

On a more positive note, revenue from the company's core media networks unit, which includes sales from cable networks and broadcast, grew 12% to US$4.3 billion, due to advertising gains at ESPN and to growth in subscribers and fees at its Disney channels.

The theme parks and resorts division also reported gains in revenue, but operating income in the unit dipped 3% due to the earthquakes in Japan. The March disaster forced closures at its Tokyo resorts. The fallout is expected to cut into earnings for the rest of the year, Disney said.

Shares of the company closed down by 5.4% on Wednesday to $41.52.

Wed, 11 May 2011 17:27:00 +0100