Disney’s big parks bet worries some Wall St analysts

by | Sep 20, 2023 | Business

By Samrhitha A and Aditya Soni

(Reuters) – Walt Disney’s $60 billion spending plan on parks and cruises to stay ahead of growing competition has worried some Wall Street analysts with its long road to payoff.

The media and entertainment giant on Tuesday unveiled a 10-year outlay for the business that has carried it through streaming losses, at a gathering of Wall Street analysts and investors at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.

The plan caught some shareholders by surprise, sparking a 3.7% fall in a stock that has already underperformed the wider market and that of rivals such as Netflix this year. Shares were up about 0.6% on Wednesday.

“Expanding parks and cruises tends to be a multi year undertaking as a result of which, revenue and margin acceleration lags the investment cycle,” Barclays analysts said.

“The struggle for investors may be to match their investment horizon with the return horizon of the company’s plan.”

Analysts said investors were also disappointed with a lack of updates on acquisition target ABC networks, the upcoming talks with Comcast on Hulu and the Hollywood strikes.

The bump in parks spending also follows a quiet period for the business during the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, when the spread of COVID-19 forced park closures and hit attendance.

The business rebounded strongly post-pandemic to become the company’s main profit engine but has shown signs of a slowdown in footfalls recently.

That led Needham analysts to warn Disney could be basing its decision on “unsustainable and elevated profit margins.”

Still, the spending could help Disney fight off rivals that are expanding their U.S. presence with the recently opened Universal’s Super Nintendo World in California and the upcoming Epic Universe in Florida in 2025.

“Disney will likely face more competition and some of this investment may also be intended to deal with this competitive backdrop,” Barclays said.

(Reporting by Samrhitha Arunasalam and Aditya Soni in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)


Sponsored Headlines