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Disney's Focus on Streaming Finds Wall Street Support

Disney's strategic shift to streaming will "sound alarm bells" at other media companies, an analyst says.
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Wall Street analysts on Tuesday were voicing their support for Walt Disney's  (DIS) - Get Free Report strategic shift to focus on streaming content.

Shares of the Burbank, Calif., company at last check were 3.9% higher at $129.86.

On Monday, Disney said it was reorganizing its media and entertainment businesses to accelerate its direct-to-consumer strategy. 

The company also named Kareem Daniel chairman of media and entertainment distribution. Daniel was formerly president of Disney's consumer products, games and publishing.

Loop Capital Markets analyst Alan Gould upgraded the stock to buy from hold and raised his share-price target to $150.

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the shift toward streaming, "and in turn, Disney has dramatically accelerated its pivot towards direct to consumer," Gould said in a note to investors.

"A massive company like Disney does not reorganize itself frequently, and the magnitude of the reorganization is a strong signal of how urgent management is now prioritizing the streaming business."

The analyst added that "no investor will disagree that the future, or arguably the present, is all about streaming, and sacrificing current profits to be better positioned for streaming is the correct move."

Rosenblatt Securities analyst Bernie McTernan said the move was “likely inevitable” but is a positive. He added that the changes “will further accelerate the shift to streaming and direct to consumer.”

RBC Capital Markets analyst Kutgun Maral said the move to streaming will “sound alarm bells” for peer media companies that have yet to pivot toward streaming. 

Maral, who rates the stock sector-perform with a $124 price target, added that the investment firm is "incrementally more bullish” on Disney’s new structure.

But he added that an improved streaming outlook “is invariably accompanied by expectations for accelerating pay-TV [subscription] declines and linear ad revenue pressure."

"The implication of separating distribution and content is significant ... because it effectively flips the legacy model of content being customized to a distribution channel to distribution being optimized to what a particular piece of content deserves to maximize its economic value," Barclays analysts Kannan Venkateshwar and David Joyce said in an investors note.

"This model is likely to result in more content shifting to streaming and away from both legacy distribution channels like media networks and movie theaters," the analysts said.

The analysts, who rate the stock overweight with a $135 price target, said they "continue to be positive on Disney stock and consider it to be one of the best investments across our coverage universe."

JP Morgan analyst Alexia Quadrani, who rates the stock overweight with a $124.97 price target, said that "overall, we view this announcement as another progressive move from Disney to more efficiently structure the organization to focus on its direct-to-consumer initiatives."