November 30, 2023

Disney is still going strong after turning a century old, thanks to increased subscriber numbers at ESPN and the post-pandemic resurgence of interest in experiences like theme parks and cruises.

A year since Bob Iger’s return as CEO, the Mouse House saw earnings at 82 cents per share, beating the estimated 70 cents per share expected.

Revenues fell short of Wall Street estimates, raking in $21.24 billion compared to $21.33 billion expected over the fourth quarter.

Streaming service Disney+ added 7 million core subscribers overall during the last quarter, totaling 150.2 million viewers. ESPN gained 3% more subscribers from the previous quarter, reaching 26 million paid viewers. The company expects its combined streaming assets to be profitable by the end of its fiscal year in 2024.

Operating income—that is, revenue less operating costs including wages, depreciation, and cost of goods sold—saw a 30% boost in the last quarter compared to the previous year, with year over year growth across its theme parks, cruises, timeshares, and resorts.

Cost-cutting plan expansion

Iger acknowledged that there’s “still work to do” but the quarter’s results “reflect the significant progress” Disney has made over the past year.

The progress includes slashing an additional $2 billion in costs to a total target of $7.5 billion in cuts.

Disney changed the way it reports financial results to investors in recent months, breaking out the business into three segments: sports (including ESPN), experiences (including theme parks and cruises), and entertainment (including Disney+, Hulu, and traditional TV channels).

The new report structure allowed the company to announce operating results for the sports division for the first time in October—an operating income of $2.71 billion on sales of $17.3 billion in the previous fiscal year, Disney said.

Iger stressed “four building opportunities,” which includes “significant and sustained profitability” in the streaming business, building the ESPN brand and platform, improving “output and economics” of their film studios, and driving growth in the parks and experiences business.

He is also “bullish” on said opportunities and intends to move forward with a “sense of purpose and urgency.”

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