3 Disney Assets Making Money, Even When Others Aren't

Disney (DIS) may be one of the most immediately recognizable brands in the world, but it's not infallible. In the wake of Solo: A Star Wars Story falling drastically short of expectations in a bad past few days for the company, its challenges are easy to remember. The company isn't immune to struggles, certainly not now as it and so many others like it search to figure out how to navigate a changing entertainment landscape.

One of the bigger stories surrounding Disney properties has been the struggle of some of their cable networks like ESPN. Cable networks as a whole have seen ratings slumps, but ESPN has taken a brutal beating in particular, and there's uncertainty as to how ESPN+, its new streaming service, will fare. Other properties have had their ups and downs as well - Hulu does well in terms of subscribers, but still loses money.

Some investors may be worried about struggles like these, others still see Disney positively. They're a massive conglomerate with so many different properties in so many different industries that they can't all be struggling, right? And indeed, Disney is lucky enough to own a few assets and properties that have proven themselves to consistently perform solidly, picking up slack when others cannot. These are some of those assets.

Disney & Marvel

What else could this possibly start with? Marvel has been the biggest thing in movies for nearly a decade. Disney purchased Marvel in 2009 for $4 billion after Marvel Studios saw great success with Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk, and managed to turn it into an empire.

Under Disney, Marvel films have had an insane turnaround - 2016 and 2017 each saw four films released. Even more incredible than the amount of films they constantly churn out is the fact that fatigue has not set in. None of Marvel Studios' films under Disney has been a box office flop, consistently providing value and strengthening the brand.

In fact, whenever a Marvel movie defies expectations, it's because it was supposed to perform well and ends up doing even better than expected. Black Panther was already expected to be a success, but critical adoration and positive fan reaction led to it crushing box office expectations. It has since made more than $1 billion globally at the box office. A few months later, Avengers: Infinity War was released and also quickly crossed the global $1 billion threshold.

Marvel Studios has years and years of upcoming franchises and sequels slated for the future, too. Some may wonder when Marvel fatigue will set in, but they've been wondering that for several years now. It simply hasn't.

Disney & Lucasfilm

Not the best timing, huh? Solo looks to be a big flop, but Disney's deal with Lucasfilm remains a lucrative and successful one.

In 2012, Disney spent more than $4 billion to acquire Lucasfilm and immediately set to work on developing new Star Wars movies to bring to a newer generation. This included not just sequels to the original Star Wars films, but also developing and creating standalone Star Wars films.

So far, that move has worked out quite well for them. The first Star Wars films released under Disney (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi) each made more than $1 billion worldwide. Rogue One was a particular eye-opener; unlike Solo, the standalone film did fantastic at the box office, proving that such films had the potential for profit. Solo likely won't make its money back, but it's still too early to tell if that's a concern or an aberration.

These numbers have helped calm investors down when they were worried about how other Disney properties were doing. When Disney shares dropped in 2017 amidst concerns about the company's cable channel subscribers, they announced additional Star Wars, preparing another movie and a television series. Shares rose nearly 3% as a result.

Disney Resorts & Theme Parks

Disney is known for a lot, especially when it comes to entertainment. It has Marvel, it has Star Wars, and it has the iconic Disney animated movies. They're all moneymakers. And yet the most consistently successful source of revenue for the Disney conglomerate may not be any of those. It may actually be the many theme parks and resorts they have worldwide.

In Disney's Q2 earnings report in 2018, they announced that their Parks and Resorts division has increased revenue 13% over the quarter to $4.9 billion. The segment operating income (profit that this segment of the company made after subtracting operating expenses) was $1 billion - a 27% increase.

Disney has seen great success in worldwide tourism, and even in times of global economic uncertainty people are going to Disney parks and resorts around the globe. In that earnings report, Disney noted growth at one Disneyland location in Paris, and increased attendance at a Disneyland location in Hong Kong.

The future for their parks and resorts shows a lot of potential as well. Disney is prepping Star Wars-themed parks with the first ones set to open in 2019. The Disney Cruise Line, in addition to releasing schedules for future cruises, has three new ships that they plan to have completed in 2021, 2022, and 2023.

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