Disney Parks Capacity Increase & Other Key Takeaways from Q4 Earnings Call


Thursday afternoon, The Walt Disney Company released its earnings report for the 4th fiscal quarter of 2020 (ending October 3, 2020), showing revenue down 23% and income down 82% over last year for the quarter. Diluted earnings per share decreased 65%.

Below are some of the most important items to note from the call. You can listed to the full earnings call HERE and you can view the official release HERE.

  • Disneyland is expected to remain closed at least through the end of the fiscal first quarter.
  • Disney’s Board of Directors made the decision to forego the semi-annual dividend payments to its shareholders in January of 2021 and will resume that upon returning to a more "normalized operating environment."
  • Walt Disney World was operating at 25% of its prior COVID-19 capacity, but Bob Chapek confirmed that they are now operating at 35% capacity while still maintaining physical distancing and other CDC guidelines.
  • Chapek stated that cruising guidelines present really high hurdles delaying the resumption of cruising beyond what was originally hoped for. The Disney Wish is delayed by approximately six months to the summer of 2022 and the other two are pushed to 2024 and 2025, respectively. Chapek also stated,

I think we have an opportunity to create a Disney bubble on each one of our cruise ships.

Direct-to-Consumer

  • Disney+ had more than 73 million paid subscribers at the end of the fourth quarter.
  • Bob Chapek says that the company is pivoting to a “DTC-First” business model and that more information on that will come during the investor call on December 10th. Animation teams were able to work remotely in order to continue production uninterrupted and to keep other parts of their pipeline active. Chapek did warn that the unpredictability of COVID-19 could cause disruptions. They have successfully completed or restarted live-action projects that were previously impacted by COVID-19 including films from Marvel Studios, 20th Century Studios, Searchlight Pictures, Disney Live-Action, and Lucasfilm and they expect to have eight new projects up and running by January.
  • On the TV side, there are 100 live-action scripted and unscripted projects in active production with dozens more coming. ABC has had tremendous success with ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and ‘The Connors’ and said that ABC News is the number one news source in America.
  • Chapek complimented local and national news teams for bringing the most important information relating to COVID-19 and the election in an informative and balanced way.
  • More details on the company’s investment in Disney+, ESPN+, Hulu, and Star will be shared on December’s Investor Day.

Theme Parks

  • Chapek stated that Disney has proven that they’re able to operate their theme parks responsibly with strictly enforced guidelines provided by healthcare experts.
  • He acknowledges that people are willing to visit the parks because they trust Disney and are confident in the measures that have been taken.
  • He continues on to say that the company is extremely disappointed in the state of California for keeping Disneyland closed.
  • Chapek said that he was happy with everything that stemmed from the NBA and MLS being hosted in the Walt Disney World bubble. It was a big win for ESPN too as they broadcast the games as sports are a powerful draw.
  • Theme park reservations at Walt Disney World (at reduced capacity limits) are already 77% booked for the first quarter of the fiscal year 2021 with Thanksgiving week booked close to capacity. 

Financial

  • The Walt Disney Co. had an adjusted loss of $.20 per share.
  • Parks, Experiences, and Products segments were the most severely affected with an estimated adverse impact of $2.4 billion in the 4th quarter.
  • Media networks operating income was negatively impacted by approximately $500 million due to COVID-19.
  • Fiscal year 2020 had a 53rd week which helped Disney’s fiscal results due to the timing of sports right-related costs.

  • In the Parks, Experiences, and Products segment, financial results were severely impacted by restricted capacities and closures.
  • Operating income declined significantly versus the prior year to an operating loss of $1.1 billion reflecting the results of Disneyland and Disney Cruise Line’s closures.
  • All reopened theme parks – Walt Disney World, Hong Kong Disneyland, and Shanghai Disneyland – achieved a net positive contribution in the quarter; meaning that they made back what they spent during reopening but still lost billions.
  • The Walt Disney Co. is expecting to spend approximately $1 billion on safety measures in fiscal year 2021 for their guests, talent, and cast members.

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