On Tues. Feb. 25, Disney announced that its CEO of 15 years, Bob Iger, would step down from his role, effective immediately. That same day, Disney's stock decreased by 2.5%.
Although news of Iger's departure brought down the company's stock, those who invested early on in his tenure would have seen dramatically positive returns.
If you invested $1,000 in Disney 10 years ago, that investment would now be worth more than $4,600 as of Feb. 25, 2020, for a total return of around 370%, according to CNBC calculations. In the same time frame, by comparison, the S&P 500 earned a total return of nearly 250%. The media business, which debuted on the New York Stock Exchange in 1957, has a current share price around $123.
While Disney's shares have done well over the years, any individual stock can over- or underperform, and past returns do not predict future results.
CNBC: Disney's stock as of February 2020.
Iger will stay with Disney through 2021 as the company's executive chairman, where he'll focus on more creative sides of the business, and will hand off his day-to-day responsibilities as CEO to Bob Chapek, Iger told CNBC's Julia Boorstin on Tuesday.
Chapek most recently served as chairman of Disney parks, experiences and products. While it's too early to tell how his leadership will impact Disney's business and stock performance, he fully intends to follow "the course that Bob has laid" and thinks it "will pay dividends to shareholders for years to come," he told CNBC on Tuesday.
During his time as CEO, Iger led Disney through a number of changes, including the launch of Disney+, a direct-to-consumer streaming app, which launched in Nov. 2019. With this product, subscribers get access to an ad-free platform with a wide range of family-friendly content for $6.99 per month.
Since its debut, Disney+ has been well received by the public, and within just a few hours of launching, it had already garnered 10 million subscribers. It also caught the attention of investors, which helped the company's stock performance. Shares of Disney increased 1.3% on the day Disney+ launched.
Under Iger's leadership, Disney made four key acquisitions in the last 14 years, according to CNBC: Pixar in 2006, Marvel in 2009, Lucasfilm in 2012 and most recently, 20th Century Fox in March 2019.
Those purchases have paid off. Lucasfilm, which Disney bought for a whopping $4.05 billion, is "one of the smartest acquisitions in history," Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore, told CNBC in 2018.
Disney has earned around $11 billion at the global box office from Pixar films, and another $18.2 billion from Marvel.
Iger's other big wins at Disney CEO include opening the Shanghai Disney Resort in 2016, which further expanded Disney's global footprint, and launching ESPN+, a sports-focused video streaming subscription, service in 2018.
While Iger had a substantial impact on Disney as a business, his time as CEO is just a short chapter in Disney's nearly 100 year history.
Since Disney was founded in 1923 by then 22-year-old Walt Disney, the media company has churned out some of the most-watched animated films of all time. One of the earliest characters created by Disney is Mickey Mouse, who emerged in 1928 as part of the "silent era" of film, followed by Snow White, whom Disney introduced as the lead character in his first full-length feature film, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," in 1937.
The classics don't stop there. In 1940, Disney released "Pinocchio," followed by "Mary Poppins" in 1964, "Robin Hood" in 1973, "The Little Mermaid" in 1989 and "The Lion King" in 1994.
Since it's founding, Disney has grown into a business empire, reaching far beyond just movies. Today, the company has theme parks worldwide, including the two originals: Disneyland in Anaheim, California, and Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. It has its own resort hotels, cable TV's "Disney Channel," hundreds of Walt Disney stores in shopping malls around the world and more.
The company has been in the news recently for more than just Iger's departure and Disney+.
The company is in the early stages of going direct-to-consumer with its media business. With this change, Disney plans to start selling its its movies, shows and channels through its streaming services.
Additionally, in February, it was announced that Disney will add a plant-based Impossible Foods burger to its U.S. parks and cruise line. Disney told the public on Tuesday that it plans on making the Impossible Burger the "preferred plant-based burger" of Disney World, Disneyland and the Disney Cruise Line.
Disney also has several new films on the horizon. "Downhill," starring Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, comes out Feb. 14, and "Onward," a new Pixar film, releases on March 6. A new Marvel film is in the works as well: "Black Widow" is scheduled to release in May 2020.
If you are considering getting into investing, experts, including Warren Buffett, often advise starting with index funds, which hold all of the companies in an index, such as the S&P 500. Because index funds fluctuate with the market and aren't tied to the performance of a single business, they're less risky than individual stocks, making them a safer choice for beginners.
Here's a snapshot of how the markets look now.
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