The Walt Disney Company

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  • Dec. 22, 2015, 6:20 PM
    • Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) is in talks to get out of its joint venture in digital network Fusion, which it launched in 2013 with Univision.
    • The talks concern Univision taking full control of ownership and operation of the network, which includes digital properties as well as its cable channel.
    • Fusion moved rapidly from an early focus on second-generation Latinos to target the entire millennial demographic, and its journalistic coverage has come to address a wide swath of topics and general-interest subject matter.
    • The cable channel, though, has struggle to get traction as it's not carried by No. 1 U.S. carrier Comcast.
    • For its part, Univision recently acquired African-American focused The Root as part of its moves to expand its digital footprint.
    | Dec. 22, 2015, 6:20 PM | 11 Comments
  • Dec. 21, 2015, 2:40 PM
    • While other films were a little harder to locate amid a record-breaking weekend at home and abroad for Star Wars, there were still box-office scraps to be fought over, and Chipmunks got most of them.
    • The makers of Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip (FOX -0.7%, FOXA -0.4%) deliberately aimed for a set of moviegoers who might be younger than Star Wars' PG-13 rating, and took in $14.4M for the No. 2 spot.
    • Meanwhile, Universal's (CMCSA -0.2%) inexpensive comedy Sisters (a film reuniting Tina Fey and Amy Poehler) drew $13.4M for the No. 3 position.
    • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (LGF +0.1%) was No. 4 with $5.6M and Creed (TWX -0.5%) No. 5 with $5.1M. Mockingjay has a five-week domestic total of $254.4M, while Creed has grossed $87.9M in four weeks. Pixar's The Good Dinosaur (DIS -1.5%) drew $4.2M to total $96.6M in its fourth week.
    • While many films dodged Star Wars' juggernaut release, next Christmas weekend is more crowded, with a number of new releases elbowing in for some holiday dollars alongside some expansions of award contenders from limited coastal releases.
    • Previously: Mixed reaction from exhibitor stocks to Star Wars opening (Dec. 21 2015)
    • Previously: 'Star Wars' has $238M opening for the ages (Dec. 20 2015)
    | Dec. 21, 2015, 2:40 PM | 5 Comments
  • Dec. 21, 2015, 11:16 AM
    • Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) is down 1.4% in first trading action since Star Wars: The Force Awakens began blowing past records over the weekend.
    • Revisions today suggest that after initially falling short of Jurassic World's $524.9M global opening, a stronger-than-expected Sunday means Star Wars has actually set a new record of $528M, thanks in large part to domestic numbers being revised up to $247M from an initial $238M. "An incredible weekend," Bob Iger told Bloomberg.
    • Jefferies has reiterated a cautious Hold on Disney, with a price target of $112; that's upside of just a little over 5%.
    • Jefferies' John Janedis noted the killer results for the weekend, but continues to fret over ESPN's sports rights expenses: "Step ups in ESPN's sports rights will be $750M in F17, followed by another $280M increase in F18.” He believes ESPN will find it difficult to grow EBIT past low single digits in fiscal 2017 and 2018.
    • Updated 3:28 p.m.: As it shovels a bit more money into its Scrooge McDuck vault, Disney now says The Force Awakens has made $248M domestically, and more than $529M globally.
    • Previously: 'Star Wars' has $238M opening for the ages (Dec. 20 2015)
    • Previously: Disney -3.3% as BTIG downgrades to Sell, pointing to ESPN (Dec. 18 2015)
    | Dec. 21, 2015, 11:16 AM | 63 Comments
  • Dec. 20, 2015, 10:20 PM
    • Not so long ago and very close to home ... Star Wars: The Force Awakens (NYSE:DIS) grossed a preliminary $238M in North America to mark the biggest opening of all time.
    • Along with its Wednesday opening in many foreign markets, the film has totaled $517M globally -- good enough for second best global opening ever, behind the $524.9M of Jurassic World (whose $208M domestic opening Star Wars surpassed).
    • But Jurassic World had the benefit of a simultaneous opening in China, the world's second-biggest movie market; The Force Awakens doesn't open there until Jan. 9 -- though on the other hand, the saga isn't well known there.
    • Back in North America, it averaged a staggering $57,568/theater, biggest ever for a wide release, and biggest Imax (NYSE:IMAX) opening ever.
    • More important for investors may be what the opening signals for the long term. Typical recent multipliers suggest that the film could indeed threaten Avatar's domestic gross record of $760.5M as it's tracking toward $714M-$833M, dependent largely on how it holds up through U.S. holidays.
    • December hasn't always brought the biggest openings, but the two top grossers that Star Wars is challenging -- Avatar and Titanic -- both opened in this same December week, in 2009 and 1996 respectively, before powering through the holidays and a lucrative winter.
    | Dec. 20, 2015, 10:20 PM | 78 Comments
  • Dec. 19, 2015, 11:08 AM
    | Dec. 19, 2015, 11:08 AM | 92 Comments
  • Dec. 18, 2015, 5:23 PM
    • Disney (DIS -4%) -- carefully tracking the ebbs and flows of theatrical screenings and added showtimes for Star Wars: The Force Awakens -- now believes that today it will become the first to top $100M at the box office in one day, and is tracking to $200M-plus for the weekend through Sunday.
    • The one-day total would surpass Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 ($91.1M) for best opening day, and if Disney's expectations hold, the weekend would threaten Jurassic World's $208.8M for best opening weekend ever.
    • Records are tricky to nail down when films open on a roll, as Star Wars has done over the past 48 hours. An overseas opening (in about a dozen markets) of $14M gave way to $57M (also a record-breaker) in Thursday previews.
    • The 4,134 theaters that are opening Star Wars in the U.S. and Canada is a December record. It's now playing in 44 international markets.
    • After a tough day following a downgrade by BTIG, shares are up 0.6% so far after hours.
    • Previously: Disney -3.3% as BTIG downgrades to Sell, pointing to ESPN (Dec. 18 2015)
    | Dec. 18, 2015, 5:23 PM | 74 Comments
  • Dec. 18, 2015, 4:18 PM
    • U.S. studios will head to Europe for a January hearing over antitrust concerns that were initially raised with formal charges in July, Reuters reports.
    • A charge sheet from the European Commission named Disney (DIS -3.8%), NBCUniversal (CMCSA -1.8%), Paramount (VIA -0.6%, VIAB -1.9%), Sony (SNE -2.8%), Twentieth Century Fox (FOX -1.4%, FOXA -1.4%), Warner Bros. (TWX -2.1%) -- and Sky (OTCQX:SKYAY -2.2%).
    • The EC accused the firms of creating improper movie licensing deals blocking users outside the UK and Ireland (thus, most of Europe) from getting to paid Sky programming. Related clauses in the deals block other broadcasters from making pay TV available in the UK and Ireland. Meanwhile, the EC is pursuing a market less fragmented by border restrictions.
    • Heavy fines could await all involved; the EU could fine companies up to 10% of global annual revenue. Disney pledged in the summer to fight vigorously.
    • A closed-door hearing is set for Jan. 18-19.
    • Previously: EU antitrust charges against Hollywood: What's at stake (Jul. 23 2015)
    | Dec. 18, 2015, 4:18 PM | 3 Comments
  • Dec. 18, 2015, 2:24 PM
    • Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) is down 3.3% today -- a case of selling the news of early record performance from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, or BTIG's downgrade of Disney today?
    • "Even the Force cannot protect ESPN," Rich Greenfield says in downgrading Disney to Sell.
    • Despite strength from the blockbuster film, Greenfield thinks consensus earnings are too high for fiscal 2017 and "far too high" for fiscal 2018.
    • ESPN paid too much for rights packages in order to block out competitors like Fox Sports and NBC, and got too many of them, he says. BTIG Resarch expects fiscal 2017 cable operating income to actually decrease overall Y/Y.
    • If The Force Awakens doesn't crest $2B in worldwide gross, Disney will miss the firm's 2016 earnings estimates as well.
    • Rosenblatt Securities analyst Martin Pyykkonen disagrees, saying ESPN downside is outweighed by record performance from Star Wars.
    • And in the sort of news that makes some roll their eyes, Moody's says the film's release is credit positive for Disney.
    • Previously: Star Wars arrives amid sky-high expectations (Dec. 18 2015)
    • Previously: Goldman re-crunches numbers, raises estimates for 'Star Wars' (Dec. 16 2015)
    • Previously: All eyes on tickets, but for Disney, 'Star Wars' may be about the merch (Dec. 16 2015)
    | Dec. 18, 2015, 2:24 PM | 117 Comments
  • Dec. 16, 2015, 10:28 PM
    • Walt Disney (DIS +1.4%) finished well as it followed a strong market today, and still climbing back toward the all-time high of $122.08 it hit on Aug. 4 (it's about 6.8% below that now, at $113.78).
    • But while Monday's premiere (and the coming weekend's release) of Star Wars: The Force Awakens has focused today's attention on early reviews -- and some analyst takes on film grosses -- the real coup is going to come in the auxiliary revenues, most of all the merchandise.
    • While the film could bring global grosses of $2B (in Goldman Sachs' newly raised estimate) or even $2.5B, the film could result in $9B in total revenues, once ancillaries come in.
    • Star Wars merch is expected to draw $3B in 2015 and $5B over the coming 12 months, far surpassing ticket sales. Adobe said there were 15M visits to websites selling affiliated products between September and November.
    • Aside from standard merchandise, videogames could add nearly $1.5B, while other viewing windows (DVDs and digital copies, and television licensing) could combine for near $1B.
    • Licensees have helped with an expanded line of products, including goods traditionally targeted at girls (including a "Dark Side" mascara and Stormtrooper necklace).
    • Despite Star Wars' staying power as a merchandising beast since the 1970s, "to my memory, the level of activity surrounding this film launch has never been seen in Star Wars history or with any other movie franchise," says Marty Brochstein of the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers Association.
    • Previously: Goldman re-crunches numbers, raises estimates for 'Star Wars' (Dec. 16 2015)
    | Dec. 16, 2015, 10:28 PM | 31 Comments
  • Dec. 16, 2015, 1:27 PM
    • The NFL is taking TV bids for its Thursday night game package, and reportedly again is limiting its plans to a two-year deal.
    • The shortness of the deal leaves room for a changing coverage landscape, and indeed this time the league is expecting a heavy digital component, sending formal streaming RFPs to companies including Google/Alphabet, Yahoo, Apple and
    • The usual TV suspects -- ESPN (NYSE:DIS), NBC (NASDAQ:CMCSA), CBS, Fox (FOX, FOXA), and Turner (NYSE:TWX) -- have gotten RFPs for a one-year deal with a league option for the second year. The NFL expects bidding to start in the low $300M range for TV (CBS is paying about $300M for the Thursday package now).
    • Digital Thursday streams would be non-exclusive and the NFL plans for that to be a simulcast of the TV production, including ads. It's unclear what digital bidding might bring; Yahoo paid about $15M for streaming rights to one game this year, though it was exclusive.
    | Dec. 16, 2015, 1:27 PM | 3 Comments
  • Dec. 16, 2015, 12:52 PM
    • With its premiere done and early (and quite positive) reviews beginning to roll in like a wave, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is ready for its moment. And after more number crunching, Goldman Sachs is bumping what were already high expectations for the box office (and for Walt Disney (DIS +0.3%)).
    • Goldman's Drew Borst has raised overall gross estimates for the film to $1.95B ($750M domestic, $1.2B international) -- the third-highest total gross of all time -- up from $1.5B.
    • He thinks every $100M increase in global box means an extra $0.02 in fiscal 2016 EPS, while $6B in Star Wars consumer product sales should add $0.016 per billion.
    • Multiplying the firm's 2016 EPS estimates by 18.5, Goldman is bumping its price target on Disney to $112 from $110 (a target that's priced in with Disney trading today at $112.50).
    • JPMorgan Chase is making Disney its top pick for the month, pointing to "impressive ticket pre-sales, strong merchandise sales as noted by partners, and positive social media buzz following the film’s premiere Monday night." The firm believes the outlook already reads positively for the Parks and Consumer Products divisions going forward.
    • Previously: Star Wars buzz helps lift CKEC, AMC, and IMAX (Dec. 16 2015)
    | Dec. 16, 2015, 12:52 PM | 34 Comments
  • Dec. 15, 2015, 6:45 PM
    • Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) has lost the highest profile piece of its Maker Studios acquisition, as president Ynon Kreiz -- who took the reins from co-founder Danny Zappin and then sold it to Disney for $500M -- is stepping down.
    • The move coincides with the end of Maker Studios' earn-out agreement with Disney. COO Courtney Holt, who was predicted to leave the studio as well, will take over as executive vice president.
    • Disney had committed $500M to the purchase last year, as well as up to $450M more if performance targets were reached, but Re/code notes that the unit was set to fall short.
    • The studio has continued to grow, to 12B views a month from around 5.5B in spring 2014.
    • Kreiz's departure follows a pair of key departures in August, when Chief Content Officer Erin McPherson and Senior VP of Marketing Jeremy Welt left the company.
    • Previously: Disney's Maker Studios parts ways with two execs (Aug. 24 2015)
    | Dec. 15, 2015, 6:45 PM | 1 Comment
  • Dec. 15, 2015, 5:55 PM
    • Monday Night Football was a winner again for ESPN (DIS +2.6%), with a matchup that helped the network top the week's cable ratings yet again.
    • The Dallas-Washington tilt on MNF drew a week-leading 14.1M viewers to pace ESPN's prime-time average 2.8M viewers, just ahead of holiday-stuffed sibling network ABC Family, which drew 2.2M, and Fox News Channel's (FOX +0.4%, FOXA +0.3%) 2M viewers, Nielsen says.
    • Discovery Channel (DISCA +0.3%) and Hallmark Channel (CRWN +1.6%) were tied at No. 4 with 1.9M viewers. Hallmark scored with a pair of films breaking into the top 10: On the 12th Day of Christmas (3.5M viewers) and Family for Christmas (3.3M).
    • On a 24-hour basis, Fox News was No. 1 for the week. Looking at the coveted 18-49 demographic, ESPN topped the charts in prime-time, and Adult Swim on a 24-hour basis.
    | Dec. 15, 2015, 5:55 PM | 6 Comments
  • Dec. 15, 2015, 9:13 AM
    • The next step for Walt Disney's (NYSE:DIS) over-the-top ambitions is a big one, with a launch in China and the help of Alibaba (NYSE:BABA).
    • Disney is up 2.1% premarket; Alibaba is up 0.4%.
    • The two will launch DisneyLife through Alibaba's Tmall shopping site, with shipments beginning Dec. 28 and presales available now. A $125 device in the iconic Mickey Mouse shape will give consumers access to content as well as allow users to plan visits to the company's parks in Hong Kong and Shanghai.
    • As with other foreign companies, Disney can't operate its own TV channels in China. The deal expands a partnership where Alibaba had arranged to distribute products related to Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Disney works with more than 300 stores selling on Tmall.
    • The $125 initial payment gets Chinese consumers a one-year subscription to Disney's service; the company didn't say what it would cost for additional years.
    • In October, Disney launched DisneyLife as a direct service in the UK, and in Disney's earnings call in early November, CEO Bob Iger said the company was "very interested" in the opportunity to take content direct in other markets.
    • Previously: Disney call: Excited for 'Star Wars,' no panic over ESPN (Nov. 05 2015)
    • Previously: Disney up 1% as it rolls out DisneyLife subscription service to UK (Oct. 21 2015)
    | Dec. 15, 2015, 9:13 AM | 18 Comments
  • Dec. 15, 2015, 4:32 AM
    • The Force Awakens, the first film from Disney (NYSE:DIS) in the Star Wars series, will debut in more than 4,100 theaters this weekend, a record number for a December opening.
    • is forecasting $223M in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales in the first weekend, topping Jurassic World from Universal Pictures, which brought in $208.8M in its debut weekend in June.
    | Dec. 15, 2015, 4:32 AM | 18 Comments
  • Dec. 10, 2015, 9:28 AM
    • Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) scored more Golden Globe nominations than any of the broadcast networks with a tally of eight.
    • Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) did well with series Transparent and Mozart in the Jungle nominated.
    • Hulu landed its first Golden Globe nomination with the comedy Casual up for best comedy/musical award.
    • HBO (NYSE:TWX) leaned on Silicon Valley, Game of Thrones, and Veep for solid representation.
    • Nearly missing in action were ABC (NYSE:DIS), CBS (NYSE:CBS), and NBC (NASDAQ:CMCSA) which lost ground to streamers and smaller cable networks.
    • The movie studio with the most nominations was 20th Century Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA) with 12. The Martian and The Revenant are both in line for some hardware for Fox.
    • Golden Globes nominations full list (.pdf)
    | Dec. 10, 2015, 9:28 AM | 37 Comments
Company Description
Walt Disney Co together with its subsidiaries is a diversified entertainment company with operations in five business segments: Media Networks, Parks and Resorts, Studio Entertainment, Consumer Products and Interactive.