Disney posts loss but notes strong streaming growth

Disney has reported a fourth-quarter loss amid the impacts of the pandemic.

The company posted a fall in revenue from $19.1bn a year earlier, to $14.71bn. Disney reported an adjusted loss per share of $0.20, down from last year’s $1.07 profit.

During the pandemic, the group accounted for losses of $1bn as it closed theme parks and the closure of cinemas hit the studio business.

Parks, Experiences and Products revenues for the quarter decreased by 61% to $2.6bn.

Despite the impacts, the group commented on a “bright spot”, which was “direct-to-consumer business, which is key to the future of our company, and on this anniversary of the launch of Disney+ we’re pleased to report that, as of the end of the fourth quarter, the service had more than 73 million paid subscribers – far surpassing our expectations in just its first year.”

For Nicholas Hyett from Hargreaves Lansdown, Disney’s restructuring into a streaming platform makes a clear case for a “streaming centric, future”.

“It’s a big gamble for a company which isn’t in the best of financial health at the moment. Net debt is high despite a pretty resilient performance at the cash level, and direct to consumer is still heavily loss making. While a vaccine might accelerate a return to normal in the key parks business, it’s still likely to take months and possibly years before business is back to where it once was.

“Disney is a unique and honestly exceptional business, controlling some unique and remarkable assets. But, for the first time in forever, the group’s having to completely rethink how it gets its world beating content to consumers. There’s potential to get a reasonable slice of the streaming pie, and that’s a slice worth fighting for,” said Hyett.