Walt Disney's (DIS) - Get Walt Disney Company Report recent fourth-quarter results showed that ESPN's future is murky at best, but its strong dominance at the box office is likely to assuage fears going into fiscal 2017.
Loop Capital Markets analyst David Miller noted that despite last year's box office smash hit Star Wars: The Force Awakens, studio revenue isn't expected to fall dramatically. Miller forecasts a 1% revenue decline and a 12.9% decline in earnings before interest and taxes, thanks to strong performance from Dr. Strange, which grossed more than $664 million around the world, according to Box Office Mojo.
The Bob Iger-led company is expected to report earnings of $1.50 a share on $15.26 billion in sales, according to analyst estimates compiled by Yahoo! Finance.
Investors will also look to seek more clarity on ESPN, which has seen continued subscriber declines over the years. More consumers are cutting the cord to get away from higher cable bills and with ESPN and its family of channels costing more than $6 per subscriber, it's been hit particularly hard.
However, with the launch of new, smaller bundles, such as the upcoming service from Hulu, some of these investor fears may begin to abate, said Goldman Sachs analyst Drew Borst. "We also see additional potential upside from the stabilization in pay TV subs driven by new virtual MVPD services and/or traction from an ESPN OTT service," Borst wrote to clients ahead of earnings. "Disney's networks have been included in every virtual MVPD service so far, and a 'sports-centric' Hulu live TV product, which Disney has already signed a deal with, will likely include ESPN as well."
Over the past 12 months, shares of Disney have gained nearly 18.5%, compared to the near 22% gain in the S&P 500.
Here are three ETFs that may benefit if investors like Disney's first-quarter results.
Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR Fund
The $10.8 billion Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLY) - Get Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR Fund Report has Disney make up 6.25% of its portfolio, charging investors an expense ratio of 0.15%.
PowerShares Dynamic Media Portfolio ETF
Jefferies analyst John Janedis wants to hear more about the opening of Pandora Park, based on the James Cameron-directed film, which Janedis believes could help boost Park attendance.
"Looking back to the Cars Land opening impact on DCA, there was a clear increase in attendance/ ticket pricing resulting in a benefit to earnings," Janedis wrote in a note to clients ahead of earnings. "We believe Pandora will have a similar impact, and though small, should help continue the solid growth trajectory at the domestic Parks." Jefferies has a hold rating and a $100 price target on shares.
The $234.8 million Fidelity MSCI Consumer Discretionary Index ETF (FDIS) - Get Fidelity MSCI Consumer Discretionary Index ETF Report has Disney make up 5.14% of its portfolio, charging investors an expense ratio of 0.08%.
Even though Disney shares have risen sharply since the start of the year, partially due to better investor sentiment around ESPN, BMO Capital Markets analyst Daniel Salmon thinks the optimism surrounding the sports network is premature.
"We think this positive turn comes too early and the risk/reward skews negatively (our target is $88, upside scenario $110, downside is $70)," Salmon wrote to clients ahead of earnings. BMO has an $88 price target on Disney, rating shares underperform.
Vanguard Consumer Discretionary ETF
Loop Capital's Miller noted that advertising sales at ESPN should decline 4%, but that's due to the fact that college football bowl games aired at different times from last year. Miller has a buy rating and a $118 price target on Disney.