Walt Disney Co. (DIS - Get Report) shares traded sharply lower Wednesday after the media group posted weaker-than-expected third quarter earnings as last year's takeover of 21st Century Fox, as well as its move to challenge Netflix (NFLX - Get Report) in online streaming entertainment, ate into its bottom line.
Disney said adjusted earnings for the three months ending in June, the company's fiscal third quarter, came in at $1.35 per share, well shy of the Street consensus forecast of $1.72 thanks in part to group's $71.3 billion acquisition of Fox, which trimmed earnings by 60 cents per share. Group revenues, Disney said, rose 33% from last year to $20.245 billion, but again fell shy of analysts' estimates of a $21.4 billion tally.
Disney also said that investments aimed at rolling out its upcoming streaming service, called Disney+, as well as its expansion of adult-focused Hulu would lead to a fourth quarter loss of around $900 million in the group's direct-to-consumer and international unit, up nearly 63% from the three months ending in June.
"Disney+ marketing is going to start to hit in later this month, later in August," CEO Bob Iger told investors on a conference call late Tuesday. "I'm actually going through a comprehensive marketing plan with the team next week. Comprehensive probably is an understatement. It is going to be treated as the most important product that the company has launched in, I don't know, certainly during my tenure in the job, which is quite a long time."
Disney shares were marked 6% lower Wednesday to change hands at $133.23 each, a move that would still leave the stock with a year-to-date gain of around 22%.
Disney said it will offer a subscription bundle that includes Disney+, ESPN+ and ad-supported Hulu for $12.99 per month when the service is launched later this autumn. Iger said the bundle will be available on the Nov. 12 launch date of Disney+, which will cost $6.99 per month as a standalone service.
"The key question coming out of F3Q is whether it is realistic that Fox can still be accretive to FY21 after such a big miss to start - in our view, forecasts might moderate, but investors will give Disney much greater leeway than normal as management has built up credibility with prior M&A execution," said Credit Suisse analyst Douglas Mitchelson, who carries a $10 price target and a neutral rating on the stock.
"Further, we expect that investors who are excited about the company's transition to streaming and the upcoming Disney+ launch are unlikely to be shaken loose by even an estimate cut of this magnitude, and even though this cut was related to Disney's traditional businesses."