Tech

Disney beats earnings expectations but does not update Disney+ guidance

Key Points
  • Disney beat on the top and bottom lines in its fiscal first-quarter results on Thursday.
  • The company said Disney+ now has 26.5 million subscribers, up from the 10 million sign-ups it reported after the service launched in November.
  • Disney also expects second quarter operating income to take a hit from the recent coronavirus outbreak. 
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Disney CEO Bob Iger on Q4 earnings

Disney reported fiscal first-quarter earnings on Tuesday and it beat on both the top and bottom lines. Shares fluctuated after hours, but were mostly within 1% of the stock's price at close.

Here are the key numbers:

  • Earnings per share: $1.53 per share vs. $1.44 per share expected, according to analysts surveyed by Refinitiv
  • Revenue: $20.86 billion vs. $20.79 billion expected, per Refinitiv

The results mark Disney's first earnings report since the launch of its new streaming service, Disney+, last November. In the earnings release, Disney CEO Bob Iger said the service has "exceeded even our greatest expectations."

Disney+ now has 26.5 million subscribers, which is up from the 10 million sign-ups it registered for the service after it launched November 12. CEO Bob Iger said on the company's earnings call that by Monday, that number had climbed to 28.6 million subscribers. Disney said the average monthly revenue per paid Disney user was $5.56.

About 20% of subscribers who signed up for Disney+ did so through a free trial with Verizon, Iger said. Roughly 50% of subscribers signed up for the service through the Disney+ site and "many of them have bought a year-long service or even a three-year" subscription, Iger added.

Iger added that "both conversion from free to pay and churn rate were better than expected." Churn refers to the pace at which users sign up for and cancel subscriptions.

Disney also did not update its guidance for the service. The company previously forecast between 60 million and 90 million subscribers by the end of its 2024 fiscal year. Iger said on the call that it's "far too early" in the rollout of Disney+ to give new guidance, especially as the service has yet to launch in some international markets.

"Well, it's obviously a very good start, but we are not updating our guidance today," Bob Iger, CEO of Disney told Julia Boorstin on CNBC's "Closing Bell" on Tuesday. "We will say something on the call about subs between the end of the quarter, the end of December and where we are as of yesterday. But we are not updating our guidances."

On the call, Iger said as of Monday, ESPN+ now counts 7.6 million subscribers and Hulu has 30.7 million total subscribers. Hulu reported average monthly revenue per paid subscriber of $59.47 during the quarter. Meanwhile, ESPN+ reported average monthly revenue per paid subscriber of $4.44, which was a 5% decline from the year ago period.

Disney blamed the decline on a "shift in the mix of subscribers" to its bundled subscription package of Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu, which has a lower average retail price per service compared to the average retail price of each service on a standalone basis.

Studio Entertainment revenues came in at $3.76 billion during the quarter, up from $1.8 billion during the year ago period. Disney said the jump in theatrical revenues was due to the performance of "Frozen II" and "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker," which both debuted late last year.

Revenue for Disney's Parks, Experience and Products segment grew 8% year over year to $7.4 billion during the quarter, while operating income increased 9% to $2.3 billion. The company said operating income growth during the quarter was partially offset by lower results at its international parks and resorts.

The segment was helped by growth at Disney's domestic parks and resorts, as a result of the opening of new parks and attractions, including the Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge park and the Rise of the Resistance ride. Iger said on the call that Rise of the Resistance has "done extremely well" in terms of attendance and higher guest spending.

Disney's international parks and resorts were hit by the protests in Hong Kong, as well as the coronavirus outbreak. The company is one of numerous U.S. companies that have suspended operations in China as the coronavirus outbreak worsens. The company closed its Shanghai Disney resort on Jan. 25 until further notice and temporarily closed its Hong Kong Disneyland Park.

Operating income at Hong Kong Disneyland fell by $80 million during the fiscal first quarter due to lower attendance and hotel occupancy as a result of protests in the region.

The company said the recent closures of its parks in Shanghai and Hong Kong will negatively impact its fiscal second quarter and full year results, but the extent of the impact will depend on how long the parks remain closed. Disney said it expected operating income at Shanghai Disney to fall by $135 million in the fiscal second quarter, while Hong Kong Disneyland could see its operating income decline by about $40 million for the second quarter.

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