New York (CNN Business)Disney’s stock took a hit on Thursday following the news that its prized streaming service Disney+, notched fewer subscribers than expected. So the platform’s rapid rise may have hit a snag — but it doesn’t mean investors should panic.
That’s because there’s more to Disney than Disney+.
Long-term, Disney+ is still projected to hit its estimates of 230 million to 260 million by the end of fiscal 2024, according to the company. Yet in the short-term, with vaccinations ramping up and Covid restrictions loosening, it’s time for the rest of Disney to help lighten the load.
“We think the subscriber miss is just a bump in the road,” Trip Miller, a Disney (DIS) investor and managing partner at hedge fund Gullane Capital Partners, told CNN Business. “We are not concerned at all about the company as Disney is a rock-solid business that has and will continue to stand the test of time.”
A great big beautiful tomorrow?
Disney+ now has 103.6 million subscribers, an astounding number for a service that’s not yet two years old — yet still below below the 110 million that many on Wall Street were expecting. The subscriber miss continued to hit Disney’s stock into Friday, opening down about 4% before recovering a bit.
Investors might be tempted to compare to Netflix (NFLX), which also missed subscriber expectations and took a stock hit last month. But streaming is Netflix’s whole business model — and though Disney+ has been the buzzy item at Disney, the company has a lot more going on.
“Netflix simply trades on its subscribers, and that subscriber number really moves the stock,” Michael Nathanson, a media analyst and founding partner at MoffettNathanson, told CNN Business. “That’s the been the case lately with Disney, but it has so many other engines that could help it.”
Two of those Disney engines are poised to rev up this summer.
Disney’s film unit and its parks and resorts division, historically the two pillars of the company’s business, were hit hard by the pandemic: Its parks closed for months and major movies were delayed, costing the company a lot of money.
But parks like Disneyland have since reopened, and films like Marvel’s “Black Widow” are ready to hit theaters and Disney+ this summer. That could make a big difference to Disney’s overall financial health and give investors more to gauge than just the streaming numbers.
“They have many catalysts in place as the world returns to normal”
Thursday brought other major news for Disney: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said people who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 do not need to wear masks or practice social distancing indoors or outdoors, except under certain circumstances.
This news has significant ramifications for Disney’s parks and theatrical business. If vaccinated consumers don’t need to wear masks, that more people may head to Disney World or to the theater.
Asked about the new mask guidelines Thursday, CEO Bob Chapek told CNBC that the resorts have seen “no shortage of demand whatsoever” and that he thinks “in relatively short order, you’re going to see our attendance go up significantly.”
It’s a fantastic development for Disney’s core parks and films businesses. And it shows that although streaming has been in the spotlight at Disney and at its competitors, investors have a lot more to consider for the House of Mouse.
As Miller, the hedge fund investor, puts it, streaming and subscriber growth “certainly get the recent headlines” but Disney is a “diversified business that works in a more normal environment.”
“We feel all the brands matter and can contribute to the long-term business,” he added. “Disney has survived the global pandemic well. Over the next year, they have many catalysts in place as the world returns to normal.”
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