Disney Parks' Reopening a Key Sign of Recovery: J.P. Morgan

J.P. Morgan says Disney's plan to reopen its theme parks is a key sign of the company's recovery from the pandemic.
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Disney's  (DIS) - Get Report plan to reopen its theme parks is a critical sign of the entertainment giant's recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, J.P. Morgan said Friday.

Shares of the Burbank, Calif., company at last check were 0.6% higher at $117.50.

Walt Disney World in Florida is scheduled to open on Saturday, part of Disney's phased reopening, which includes Disneyland Paris reopening on July 15. 

Disney was forced to close its theme parks due to the coronavirus.

"The reopening of the parks globally is a critical sign of recovery as this removes the largest overhang at the company due to covid-19," analyst Alexia Quadrani said in a note to investors. She affirmed an overweight rating on the shares.

"We ... have increasing conviction that the health of the company is returning throughout several of its segments, with a move toward profitability in fiscal 2023 at Disney+, the reopening of the parks, and the return of live sports," she wrote.

Tokyo Disneyland reopened July 1, while Hong Kong Disneyland reopened June 18, and Shanghai Disney has been open since May 11. Disneyland in Anaheim does not have a reopening date.

The analyst, who has a $135 price target on the shares, said she was impressed with the "robust growth" of Disney+, the company's streaming service. 

Downloads of the Disney+ app jumped during the July Fourth holiday weekend as the film of the Broadway musical "Hamilton" launched on the streaming service.

"We expect the conversation will return to the meteoric growth in digital subscribers and Disney’s superior content, now that some of the parks are beginning to reopen," Quadrani said. 

"We see the hit from covid-19 being specific to fiscal 2020 with some lingering impact to attendance at the parks and some disruption in the slate of films as an issue that may bleed into fiscal 2021."

Quadrani added that she was also "hopeful most sports will return over the next six-to-12 months although we understand that process remains fluid."