Walt Disney (DIS) stock fell in after-hours trading yesterday, while quarterly results were hammered by a decline in theme-park attendance, spend on new streaming services, declines in viewership at its networks, in addition to an unsuccessful movie, which was inherited as part of the $71 billion acquisition of Fox assets.

However, Disney faced a more challenging quarter due its complexity of integrating Fox, showing clear signs of its struggle to get a handle on its purchase, despite the opening of “Star Wars” land. 

Chief Executive Robert Iger said yesterday: 

I’ve been doing earnings calls for a long time, and this is one of our more complicated ones.

The firm’s film earnings certainly complicated matters. Disney had largely been expected to announce record-breaking profits from movies, after the the release of Avengers:Endgame and Toy Story 4

But actual figures painted a less rosy picture, with reported revenue of $3.84 billion (compared to $4.37 billion expected), and operating income of $792 million (well short of the expected $1.09 billion figure).

According to third-quarter data, Disney reported a profit of $1.76 billion, on sales of $20.25 billion, up from revenue of $15.2 billion in last year’s quarter. 

Following the announcement of the results, shares fell more than 4% in trading. 

According to analysts, Disney was expected to have earned $1.72 a share on sales of $21.45 billion. Instead, earnings of $1.35 a share were announced, down from $1.87 a year ago.

Iger said: 

One of the biggest issues we faced in this quarter in terms of the earnings was the Fox studio performance, which was well below where it had been and well below where we hoped it would be when we made the acquisition. 

However, the film business isn’t solely responsible for the unexpected financial results. Both the television networks and Disney theme parks are larger divisions than Disney’s movie-production arm. 

Footfall though Disney parks also came in lighter than expected at $6.58 billion, while the company’s TV assets reported $6.71 billion takings.

Disney also announced that its bundled streaming service will include Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu for $12.99 a month, the same price Netflix, and a play by Disney that they hope will allow them to steal huge market share upon release of the service.

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Dalia Hilmi
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