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Disney Rises on Surprise Quarterly Profit; Disney+ Subs Rise

Disney reported an adjusted profit of 32 cents per share while analysts were expecting a loss of 34 cents per share.
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Shares of Disney  (DIS) - Get The Walt Disney Company Report rose after hours Thursday after the media entertainment company reported strong fiscal first quarter results.

The Burbank, Calif.-based company reported adjusted earnings of 32 cents per share on revenue of $16.25 billion in the quarter ended Jan. 2. 

Analysts expected Disney to report an adjusted loss of 34 cents per share, according to FactSet, compared to a gain of $1.53 per share last year, and revenue of $15.90 billion, down from $20.86 billion a year ago.

Disney shares were rising $2.67 to $196.00 in after-hours trading on Thursday.

"We believe the strategic actions we’re taking to transform our Company will fuel our growth and enhance shareholder value, as demonstrated by the incredible strides we’ve made in our [direct-to-consumer] business, reaching more than 146 million total paid subscriptions across our streaming services at the end of the quarter," said CEO Bob Chapek.

Its biggest streaming platform, Disney+, registered nearly 95 million paid subscribers, more than tripling its total from a year ago when Disney+ first debuted.

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Disney previously reported having 86.8 million paid Disney+ subscribers as of Dec. 2, and has plans to increase that number to between 230 million and 260 million by the end of 2024. 

The average monthly revenue per paid Disney+ subscriber was $4.03, down nearly 30% year-over-year. Disney said the decline was due to the launch of Disney+ Hotstar, its collaboration with Star India's Hotstar.

Total direct-to-consumer revenues for the quarter rose 73% year-over-year to $3.5 billion, with the segment cutting its operating loss to $466 million from $1.1 billion. Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu combined had 146 million paid subscribers.

Disney's parks segment saw a 53% decline in revenue year-over-year to $3.6 billion due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

In November, Disney said it is planning to lay off 32,000 workers by the end of March, with most of the job cuts taking place in the company's theme parks, where thousands have already been furloughed or laid off. Some 37,000 Disney employees were on furlough as of Oct. 3, according to a November filing.

"Due to the current climate, including Covid-19 impacts, and changing environment in which we are operating, the company has generated efficiencies in its staffing, including limiting hiring to critical business roles, furloughs and reductions-in-force," Disney said in the filing.

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