Disney stock gained nearly 4% Friday after analysts issued upbeat reactions to the company’s quarterly earnings report and reiterated optimism about Disney+.
The $7-a-month streaming service build on key brands like Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar and National Geographic launches at 12:01AM on Tuesday.
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In its fiscal fourth-quarter results, Disney showed the investment in Disney+ carving into profits (as expected) but the media giant beat Wall Street forecasts for revenue and earnings per share.
The stock gained in after-hours trading Thursday and continued the momentum during Friday’s trading day, closing at $137.96 on triple its normal volume. It has pulled back a bit from its 2019 peak of $147.15 reached in July, but has still risen 25% in the year to date, a heady increase for a traditional media stock.
Based on new details revealed Thursday — including launches in the UK and Europe and key distribution deals — analysts are predicting Disney+ will rack up between 16 and 20 million global subscribers by next fall. It’s joining a crowded field, with Apple, WarnerMedia and NBCUniversal also rolling out alternatives to Netflix.
Michael Nathanson of MoffettNathanson has a “buy” rating and 12-month target of $150 on Disney stock. In a note to clients, he said strong subscriber numbers would likely set off a chain reaction in the stock market. “As we have vividly seen at Netflix, when moving in the right direction, momentum in subscriber growth makes those metrics investors’ sole focus … and the market is sensing big things are brewing in the quarters ahead.”
Benjamin Swinburne of Morgan Stanley said one bit of non-news was one of his biggest takeaways from the quarter. “Importantly, given the inherent near-term earnings uncertainty tied to its pivot to streaming, Disney reiterated the financial impact of its direct-to-consumer plans for fiscal 2020 from its investor day last April, he wrote in a note to clients. “Disney’s powerful brands and its history of executing on delivering content success support the growing value of its streaming services,”
Disney has not said when the rest of Europe, Asia, Latin America or other key territories will come online, but Todd Juenger of Bernstein Research said the rollout “looks faster” than it did last quarter. “Combined with Verizon deal, Year One subs of 20 million look much more likely,” he wrote.