A ray of sunshine about Disney’s theme park business and optimistic expectations ahead of the company’s quarterly earnings report on Thursday helped boost the company’s shares 5% to record territory.
The stock closed Monday at $190, up 5%, after reports that the company planned to re-hire up to 1,000 workers to help it host a food and drink festival at California Adventure in March. Outdoor dining was permitted to resume by the state last week. Few specifics were revealed about the festival, which was reported by media outlets including Good Morning America and the Los Angeles Times but not formally announced by parks officials. Theme parks, historically a revenue-producing juggernaut for the company, have been on their knees, with 28,000 workers let go during Covid-19.
Disney’s gains helped power the Dow Jones Industrial Average to a new record close at 31,385.76, its sixth straight session of positive movement. The Nasdaq, S&P 500 and Russell 2000 also all closed at record-high levels.
AMC was a notable exception to the upswing, with shares in the top movie theater circuit dropping almost 10% to $6.18 on average trading volume. The company’s stock had posted meteoric gains in recent sessions as retail investors organized on Reddit placed large bets on shares of AMC, GameStop and several other ailing companies in a bid to squeeze short-sellers.
Even after recent declines, the share price is still at its highest level since Labor Day of last year, when Warner Bros opened Tenet and optimism for theatrical releases ran high in many corners of the industry. Since then, Covid rates worsened, major markets remained closed and the exhibitor had to scramble to raise funds. Its most recent report to investors was that it has adequate liquidity to ride out 2021 even if pandemic closures persist.
Disney is due to report its financial results for its fiscal first quarter on Thursday amid abundant bull sentiment about its pivot to streaming. As of mid-December, Disney+ had 86.8 million global subscribers and the company increased its prices and boosted five-year subscription forecasts. Wall Street analysts are expecting revenue to decline 23% to $15.9 billion in the quarter ending in December, with an adjusted loss of 42 cents a share, a big swing from profit of $1.53 per share in the same period in 2019.
Streaming subscriber numbers should extend upbeat views of Disney’s prospects, with the company expecting total subscribers across Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu to exceed 300 million by 2025. Even though the company posted its first full year of losses in decades during fiscal 2020, the belief that it can match up with Netflix, which has 203.7 million subscribers, is emboldening many investors.
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