As a publicly held company, a company that issues stock to investors, The Walt Disney Company is required by the SEC to hold quarterly earnings calls where it reports on the general state of its business now, offers some forward looking statements, and then answers questions from the press and institutional investors. It’s generally a pretty dry experience with few surprises.
Generally, but this quarter there were a few shockers.
Disney continues to be a money making machine, blowing investor estimates of quarterly earnings out of the water. Earnings per share were reported at $1.84, a good $0.50 above estimates. I hope y’all own some stock.
The newly created Disney Parks, Experiences, and Consumer Products division saw increased hotel occupancy, increased sales, and increased spending over last year with out much increase in attendance. This was partially offset by lower licensing revenue and weakness at the three international parks.
According to Disney:
Growth in operating income at our domestic parks business was driven by higher guest spending at the parks and higher occupied room nights at the hotels. Attendance at our domestic parks was comparable to the first quarter last year. However, per capita spending was up 7% on higher admissions, food and beverage, and merchandise spending.
Per room spending at our domestic hotels was up 5% and occupancy was up 3 percentage points to 94%. So far this quarter, domestic resort reservations are pacing up 4% compared to prior year, while booked rates are up 1%.
The hotel occupancy rate is interesting considering bookings were expected to be weaker ahead of the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opening. But Disney’s working to counter that with bundled dining packages and other discounts. Looks like it’s working.
There was also a moment of levity when asked about costs to market the two big Star Wars related expansions at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Iger responded with this quip, “Don’t expect much. I’m thinking that I should just tweet, ‘It’s opening,’ and that would be enough.”
He’s probably right there. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is likely going to market itself via word of mouth and online influencers just fine. The popularity of the Star Wars brand and its legions of fans goes a long way.
Disney+, the new direct-to-consumer streaming service, was a constant topic of the call, but Iger kept pushing off answers instead indicating that there will be a lot more information about Disney’s streaming efforts revealed on a call in April.
I guess, we’ll stay tuned for that. Also, at some point in the near future (likely June) the purchase of 21st Century Fox becomes official. That will be an interesting time for Disney.
Because of the impending acquisition we’re going to start covering Fox related stories more here on The Disney Blog. Let us know what you’d like to see in the comments below.
Previously: Bob Iger says Disney will allow R-rated Marvel films after Fox acquisition. So you’re good Deadpool fans.