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Disney earnings fall as coronavirus ‘significantly' impacts parks, but ESPN, Disney+ shine

Disney (DIS) reported second-quarter revenue that jumped from the prior year, but earnings tumbled as the coronavirus pandemic ravaged some of the company’s most profitable business segments.

The report sent Disney’s stock down more than 2% in the after-hours session. Here were the main results watched by Wall Street, compared to consensus data compiled by Bloomberg:

  • Adjusted earnings per share: 60 cents vs. 86 cents expected, $1.61 Y/Y

  • Revenue: $18.01 billion vs. $17.68 billion expected, $14.92 billion Y/Y

The results reflected the breadth of the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, with the outbreak touching virtually every aspect of Disney’s operations.

Along with having to shutter its vacation-friendly parks around the world, Disney has also pushed back the release dates for a number of potentially lucrative feature films during the quarter, including including the live-action “Mulan” and Marvel Cinematic Universe’s “Black Widow.” Production for new content was also largely put on pause as social distancing measures remained in place.

“The impact of COVID-19 and measures to prevent its spread are affecting our segments in a number of ways, most significantly at Parks, Experiences and Products where we have closed our theme parks and retail stores, suspended cruise ship sailings and guided tours and experienced supply chain disruptions,” the company said in a statement Tuesday.

“In addition, we have delayed, or in some cases, shortened or cancelled theatrical releases and suspended stage play performances at Studio Entertainment and have seen advertising sales impacts at Media Networks and Direct-to-Consumer & International,” it added.

In a bid to preserve capital and cut costs, Disney’s Chief Financial Officer Christine McCarthy told analysts on a call Tuesday that the company will forego its semiannual dividend payment, previously scheduled for July.

The move will preserve about $1.6 billion in cash, McCarthy said, assuming the dividend had been held constant at 88 cents per share. Disney also expects to see its capital expenditures down $400 million over last year for 2020.

Disney’s fiscal second quarter comprised the first three months of 2020. During that period, the company’s theme parks were shuttered first in Shanghai and Hong Kong, and then throughout the world as the outbreak worsened. Those closures contributed to a 58% decline in operating income in Disney’s parks, experiences, and consumer products segment, which typically has been the most profitable of the company’s business units.

Disney said during a call with analysts Tuesday it plans to reopen its Shanghai Disney Resort on May 11, albeit with limited reservations in keeping with social distancing realities.

Disruptions from the pandemic also dealt blows to other parts of Disney’s media empire, including its studio entertainment segment. While revenues in this unit grew about 20% over last year to $2.54 billion, operating income sank 13% to $466 million, with the company citing higher film impairment charges and decreases in theatrical distribution as theaters closed domestically starting around mid-March.

Disney’s media networks segment was a bright spot, with results growing on both the top and bottom lines during the quarter as strong broadcasting results offset weakness at ESPN, which suffered as sports programming was sidelined amid the pandemic. Segment operating income grew 8.7% to $2.38 billion, comprising the vast majority of Disney’s total $2.4 billion in operating income during the quarter.

Disney’s nascent streaming service Disney+, along with its analogous sports streaming service ESPN+, each posted double digit percentage gains in subscribers over last quarter — largely because consumers stranded at home feasted on digital content.

ESPN+ grew subscribers by 20% to 7.9 million, while the company revealed on the analyst call that Disney+ has amassed 54.5 million subscribers as of May 4, just under six months after the service’s initial U.S. launch.

The results echoed those of competitor Netflix (NFLX), which reported a far greater jump than expected in quarterly subscribers in its own earnings report in late April, suggesting strong trends in streaming overall as customers seek out entertainment while sheltering in place.

Shares of Disney were down about 30% for the year to date through Tuesday’s close, underperforming against the broader market’s 11% decline.

This post is breaking. Check back for updates.

PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 28: In this photo illustration, a remote control is seen in front of a television screen showing a Disney + logo on March 28, 2020 in Paris, France. At the request of the French government, the Disney + streaming platform has decided to postpone its launch in France to April 7. (Photo Illustration by Chesnot/Getty Images)

Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @emily_mcck

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