The Walt Disney Company is a global entertainment company that operates a broad range of businesses, including theme parks, resorts, a cruise line, broadcast TV networks, and related products. Disney also produces live entertainment events, and produces and streams a wide range of film and TV entertainment content through its relatively new digital streaming services. The Walt Disney Co. is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the ticker symbol, DIS.
Founded in 1923 as the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio by brothers Walt and Roy Disney, the company now boasts a market capitalization of $256 billion (as of Nov. 17 2020) and generated annual net income of $11.6 billion on annual revenue of $69.6 billion during its 2019 fiscal year (FY), which ended September 28, 2020.
Under the leadership of Bob Chapek, who took over from Robert Iger as the company's CEO in February 2020, the company operates through the following business segments: Media Networks; Parks, Experiences and Products; Studio Entertainment; and Direct-to-Consumer and International.
The Walt Disney World theme park in Florida reopened in July after closing in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, COVID-19 cases have since escalated in Florida, with officials having reported the highest level of new infections of any U.S. state.
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Disney's Latest Developments
- Disney held its Investor Day 2020 after the market close on Dec. 10, 2020. Many of the key announcements involved the Disney+ streaming service, including continued strong growth in subscribers this year, bold projections for growth through 2024, a flood of new content destined for the service, and a modest price increase.
- Disney has announced that it plans to lay off 32,000 employees by the end of March 2021, which is when the first half of its fiscal year 2021 concludes. The force reduction will be primarily in Disney's Parks, Experiences and Products segment, which had about 155,000 employees as of Oct. 3, 2020, the date on which its fiscal year 2020 ended. As of the same date, Disney employed about 203,000 persons in total.
- Disney is reportedly considering whether three upcoming films, all potential blockbusters, should go straight to the Disney+ video streaming service rather than premiering in movie theaters. If so, this might provide an added growth spurt to the Disney+ service while delivering another severe blow to the already embattled movie theater business, including major chains such as AMC Entertainment Holdings, Inc. (AMC) and Cinemark Holdings, Inc. (CNK).
- Disney announced on Nov. 12, 2020 that it is continuing the suspension of its semi-annual cash dividend. Investors did not receive a dividend in July 2020 and will also not get a cash payout in January 2021. The company's board of directors attributed its decision to "the ongoing impact of COVID-19 and the Company's decision to prioritize investment in its direct-to-consumer initiatives."
- On Nov. 12, 2020, Disney reported an adjusted loss per share for Q4 of its 2020 fiscal year that was narrower than analysts expected. While falling revenue continued to be adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, it also surpassed analyst estimates. Revenue for the most-affected aspect of Disney's business—Parks, Experiences and Products—also sank YOY, but came in above expectations. The total number of subscribers on the Disney+ video-streaming platform continued to rise and surpassed analyst forecasts.