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Disney on Thursday reported quarterly and full-year financial results for perhaps the last time before it acquires most of 21st Century Fox, and the results did not disappoint Wall Street as strong results for Incredibles 2 and Ant Man and the Wasp helped the conglomerate’s film studio to increase its revenue by 50 percent.
Analysts were expecting Disney to earn $1.34 per share on $13.73 billion in revenue in its fiscal fourth quarter, but the conglomerate posted $1.48 per share on sales of $14.31 billion. For the full fiscal year, Disney was expected to earn $6.94 per share on $58.87 billion, though it reported $7.08 per share on $59.43 billion in revenue.
Shares of Disney fell 1 percent on Thursday to $116.09, but the stock rose 2 percent after the closing bell when the company released its earnings.
In conjunction with earnings, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced that the company’s upcoming streaming service that is to compete with Netflix is dubbed Disney+, much like its ESPN streaming product is called ESPN+. Earlier reports had erroneously indicated the upcoming service would be called Disney Play.
Disney’s acquisition of most of the entertainment assets of Fox, the company controlled by Rupert Murdoch and his sons, is poised to close by early next year should regulators approve the transaction, and Iger said Thursday that he’s confident that that will happen sooner than originally expected.
The Fox transaction includes that company’s 30 percent of Hulu, giving Disney 60 percent of that asset, and Iger made it clear that Hulu and Disney+ can coexist quite nicely.
Disney will have “considerable say in how Hulu is run” given that Comcast and AT&T will remain minority shareholders, and the exec suggested either or both may choose to divest of their interest in Hulu.
Iger said Hulu is “underappreciated” due to its young demographic and ability to deliver targeted ads, and he said he will invest more in original programming and perhaps increase the monthly subscription fees, which currently start at $5.99 a month.
Hulu, said Iger, will be for general entertainment, while Disney+ will be the home for family fare. Along those lines, he announced that a prequel series to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story for Disney+ is in the works.
In studio entertainment, Disney’s revenue surged from $1.43 billion in the quarter last year to $2.15 billion this time, with Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War and Star Wars: The Last Jedi each making a hefty contribution to the top line.
Disney’s biggest segment, media networks, saw quarterly revenue climb 9 percent to $5.96 billion, with most of the growth attributed to broadcast television rather than cable.
Parks and resorts posted 9 percent revenue growth to $5.07 billion, and consumer products and interactive media saw revenue sink 8 percent to $1.12 billion.
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