All words beginning with “D,” and that’s close to a failing grade.
A mere week after South Park made Star Wars killer, Kathleen Kennedy, a household name. Disney received another blow: their Q4 2023 investor earnings call. “The Rat,” as neighboring Universal Theme Park employees reportedly to call them, got a one-two punch to the gut.
“Overwhelmed and exhausted” CEO, Bob Iger tried to put a happy face on the beleaguered company’s viability. As if astute audiences were unaware Disney stock prices have plummeted 61% since 2021. Disney business analyst, Valliant Renegade, a Youtuber recently on Fox News, hosted the live stream breakdown of the earnings call “There is no company that has violated the public trust like Disney,” Valliant Renegade (VR) said. The experts on his live stream panel said Iger looked worn out, a far cry from his oft-reported arrogant visage.
“Has anyone noticed that he’s aged like 20 years since the last call?” industry analyst Mexican IronMan said during an unprecedented live interview Iger did with CNBC before the earnings call itself. (See below for more highlights of the call itself.) “This is a guy in panic mode. I’ve had some experience in corporate governance…. He’s scared.”
But Bob “Quiet the Noise” Iger is finally seeing it’s not good business to antagonize your customer base: families.No doubt, his tacit approval of last year’s Nativity blasphemy was not good for business, and now the company is facing unprecedented repercussions.
Disaster for Disney
– Disney is “bleeding out at the box office” as Marvel, Pixar and Disney Animation movies are losing hundreds of millions.
– With Star Wars *meh* reception on Disney Plus, things are only getting worse for the House of Mouse.
– Disney’s cash cow, ESPN is under-performing, so they’ve turned to gambling.
– They have to come up with $8.61 billion, at a minimum, by Dec. 1, to purchase Hulu from Comcast.
With stock prices plummeting, billions lost due to Disney Plus expenses, and linear broadcasting (traditional TV) dying because of cord-cuting and streaming, even the once safe theme parks, traditionally their biggest earner, are no longer their ace in the hole. Competitors are smelling blood in the water, so it is little wonder that Six Flags and Cedar Fair, owners of Cedar Point and other theme parks, just announced a merger.
Some Highlights From the Live Stream Earnings Call:
During The Walt Disney Company’s (DIS) 4th Quarter earnings call on November 8, 2023, Iger delineated the results of fiscal year 2023, which went from October 2, 2022 to September 30, 2023. He also fielded investor questions.
Disney business analyst Valliant Renegade cut through the propaganda during the earnings call, along with fellow notable analysts and reporters, WDW Pro and Jonas J. Campell, from That Park Place Home – That Park Place among others.
At 4PM Eastern, when the call was scheduled to commence, Iger took the unprecedented step of appearing live on CNBC, in Burbank, CA. “I’m shocked he’s on this long, I’ve never seen anything like this,” Valliant Renegade (VR) said. Iger stayed on roughly 20 minutes, from a few minutes after 4PM to 4:30.
The CEO, derided recently during the actor’s strike for his trademark arrogance, appeared visually weak, tired during the interview.
“I have the utmost respect for actors,” Iger said in an uncharactestic show of humility. “If it goes on much longer, the strike could become significant.” He said all pertinent parties are working to end the strike.
When asked about the proxy fight from activist investor Nelson Peltz, who owns $2.5 billion in Disney stocks, Iger demurred. Peltz is the owner of Trian Fund Management and is seeking multiple seats on Disney’s board. Iger instead deflected, pivoting to Monday’s announcement of the new CFO, Hugh Johnston, formerly of PepsiCo.
He told the CNBC interviewer he didn’t know what Peltz wanted (profits).
Based on his non-committal comments, industry insider WDW Pro surmised an adversarial proxy war is waiting in the wings.
CNBC reported on Wednesday Peltz is waiting for the results of the earnings call before he announces his next move.
“We don’t manage the stock for short-term gains,” Iger told the interviewer. “Long-term the picture for Disney shareholders is quite bright.”
Even though the dividend has been on hold since 2020, and Iger promised in Q1 2023 to restore it. No mention of that during the earnings call, other than the recommendation that the board issue a dividend.
“Advertising is really struggling,” the CNBC interviewer posited to Iger.
He said ESPN had a great ratings year. Ratings apparently don’t translate into profit, vis a vis their launch of ESPN’s BET gambling service, which Iger said will begin next week.
He told the interviewer that during the earnings call Disney Plus subscribers will be reported to be increased worldwide, but that Hulu subscribers were down.
Iger also said that Hulu’s integration into Disney Plus will be delayed until late 2024.
Then, after a brief pause, the interview with CNBC ended and the earnings phone call began.
NEWS DURING THE EARNINGS CALL:
The earnings phone call itself was labeled as dull and boring by VR’s analysts watching via live stream. All concurred that it seemed Disney and the investors asking questions were deliberately being dull and boring, as if trying to put viewers to sleep in order to hide things.
The analysts said there was a lot of deflection regarding the most important issues.
The bland call reported that revenue was up in Q4 for Disney’s three main divisions – Entertainment, Sports, and Experiences, and they maintained that they will reach streaming profitability in Q4 2024.
But was most mind-boggling to this writer – an animator and creator of Christian cartoons, so one who is mindful of animation news – was the lack of news regarding Disney’s having to come up with a minimum of $8.61 billion by Dec. 1. They are legally obligated to pay that amount, or more, in order to purchase the remaining 33% shares of Hulu from Comcast. And this did not even warrant a listing in the Key Points of their Q4 Earnings Report.
But when guests defecating in long lines is recently in the news for your company, perhaps there are more pressing matters, regarding hazmat suits, that need their attention.
And while some surmise this is the stuff of urban legend, Youtube analyst Jay “Drunk3po” joined the end of the live stream, and spoke about this actually being a real thing at the parks. Jay said guests actually defecate while they are waiting in line at the parks. He said Disney brought in people with hazmat suits while they spent hours cleaning the ride he was in line for. He didn’t wait for that ride.
Oh Disney, how the mighty have fallen…..
Is There Any Good News in This?
Absolutely. For indie Christian producers, this writer and animator included, who see this as God clearing a path. As is the actor’s strike, since we are not bound by their rules (John 15:19 – 21 ESV)
Kristen Collier has a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and is the author of the “exciting ecclesiastical thriller,” King of Glory, a supernatural love story about the Second Coming. She is co-founder, animator and producer at Collier Animation Studio, whose cartoons appear on streaming TV. Collier, a Hollywood Prayer Network MI Chapter Director, is also co-director of Allendale Christian Media, a department of St. John Lutheran Church.