Walt Disney Co. shares (DIS) saw a modest leap on Friday morning after a mostly positive earnings call on Thursday night that revealed that, while the company still suffered a $0.20 loss per share and a a 23% drop in revenue, it was able to beat expectations in both areas, which forecasted a $0.71 loss per share and $777M loss in profit, as opposed to $710M.
Much of this success was due to the company’s budding streaming service, Disney+, which had smashed expectations and surpassed 73 million subscribers in just its first year, a number that it was, modestly, expected to reach by 2023-24.
The success of the streaming service, fueled by the massively popular Star Wars original series, The Mandalorian, was so pronounced that it was able to offset COVID-19 related losses, in just about every other division of the company.
As to be expected in a year that ravaged the tourism and hospitality industries, Disney’s biggest losses came from the Parks and Resorts division where the company estimates that it lost a net total of $2.4B in the fourth quarter alone. While most of Disney’s theme parks and resorts were able to re-open after the initial outbreak and continue operation – save for the California resort and now Disneyland Paris – they were forced to limit capacity and enforce strict social distancing standards which, in turn, limited potential profit.
Additionally, the company saw a similar decline in Studio Entertainment, as they’ve been unable to release highly anticipated movies like Marvels’ Black Widow and The Eternals and were forced to release the live-action remake of the fan-favorite animated movie Mulan as a Premier Access Title on Disney+. Subscribers were given access to the film if they paid an additional $29.99 fee.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek was optimistic regarding the film’s domestic release on the streaming service, saying yesterday that he was “pleased with the results of Mulan as a Premier Access title” noting “positive results” and added “there’s going to be a role for [more Premier Access titles] strategically in our portfolio of offerings.”[.]. While he didn’t offer any numbers, it’s possible that information will be revealed during Disney’s investor day on December 10.
The film didn’t see such positive results in countries where is was able to be released in theaters, though, as Mulan didn’t play as well as the company was hoping in China, pulling in just $40.7M in the titular character’s home country and $66.8M in total overseas.
As of midday, shares of Disney have come off their highs and settled at around $138, up a modest 1.8% on the day.