One Reason Why Disney Stock Is Falling Today

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Shares of Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) trended lower on Tuesday after the media and entertainment company released mixed second-quarter earnings results. The company topped earnings estimates on the strength of its cost-cutting measures but fell short of revenue estimates.

Investors saw this as a negative in the immediate aftermath, as Walt Disney shares were down roughly 8% at the opening bell.

A magical run

Walt Disney advertises its Disneyland theme park as the “happiest place on Earth,” and investors have also been pretty happy with its stock lately. The company has been the top performer on the Dow Jones Industrial Average this year, soaring 28% year to date (YTD).

Management prevailed last month in a two-year long proxy battle against activist investor Nelson Peltz, who was defeated in his bid to gain board seats. In addition to that win, Walt Disney stock has been rising for a variety of other reasons related to the improved performance, which stemmed from drastically reduced expenses and solid revenue gains.

However, expectations may have been set a bit too high, at least from a revenue perspective, as Disney fell short of revenue projections in its fiscal second quarter that ended on March 31. Disney generated $22.08 billion in revenue in the quarter, up from $21.8 billion in the same quarter a year ago but down from $23.5 billion in the previous quarter. The company’s revenue also came in slightly below the $22.12 billion analysts had projected.

Once again, it was the Experiences division that led the way, with revenue rising 10% year over year to $8.4 billion. The segment includes Disney’s theme parks. Its sports division was also solid, with a 2% increase in revenue.

What likely disappointed investors was the Entertainment division, which encompasses the company’s movies, streaming and TV properties. Revenue in the entertainment division fell 5% year over year and 2% from the previous quarter to $9.8 billion. More specifically, the Disney+ streaming business reported fewer subscribers than Wall Street analysts had projected, coming in at 153.6 million versus the expected 154.5 million.

This reaction seems a tad overblown to me. Overall, the number of Disney+ subscribers rose 3% from the previous quarter, and Hulu subscribers climbed 1%. Direct-to-consumer streaming revenue rose 13% year over year while it operated at a $47 million profit, up from a $587 million loss a year ago and a $216 million loss last quarter.

In fact, streaming was a bright spot for Walt Disney compared to the 40% revenue plunge in the movies segment and the 8% decline in linear networks.

“Our results were driven in large part by our Experiences segment as well as our streaming business. Importantly, entertainment streaming was profitable for the quarter, and we remain on track to achieve profitability in our combined streaming businesses in Q4,” said CEO Robert Iger in the earnings release.

Earnings top estimates

On the other hand, Walt Disney’s earnings numbers continued to impress, as its massive expense reductions boosted its bottom line.

While Disney reported an overall net loss of $20 million, compared to $1.3 billion in net income in the same quarter a year ago, it was hurt by $2.1 billion in one-time restructuring and goodwill impairment charges related to a joint venture involving its Star India property.

On an adjusted basis, Disney beat estimates with adjusted earnings per share of $1.21, up from 93 cents in the second quarter of 2023. That is up some 30% year over year — and it’s far better than the $1.10 in adjusted EPS that was estimated.

Today’s sell-off looks like an overreaction, as Disney remains on track to achieve profitability in its streaming business this year and is expected to realize $7.5 billion in annual run-rate savings in 2024. However, it may have to do with the fact that Disney has become overvalued with its recent run-up and now has a sky-high P/E ratio of 71.

Thus, while I think Disney has a lot of growth ahead, but the valuation seems a bit high right now.