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Walt Disney Co Missed Fourth-Quarter Targets… And It Doesn’t Matter!

Will Healy

I mentioned in a previous article that Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS) faced a crucial test in its next earnings report. That report came and went. Although revenue and earnings per share (EPS) missed estimates, Wall Street shrugged off the news and bought Walt Disney stock anyway.

Walt Disney Co (DIS) Missed Fourth-Quarter Targets... And It Doesn't Matter!

Source: Richard Stephenson via Flickr (Modified)

This buying on bad news indicates investors are looking beyond the quarter and valuing the strategic moves DIS is making to bolster its long-term future.

Walt Disney Stock Strength Lies in Its Mission

On the surface, the Nov. 9 earnings report looked terrible. Walt Disney stock missed revenue projections by $560 million, with Parks & Resorts being the only segment that increased revenues. It missed EPS estimates by 8 cents per share (again, Parks & Resorts was the sole bright spot — the only segment to show an increase in profits). The company also announced layoffs at ESPN, as cable cutting continues to hurt viewership.

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The good news for holders of DIS stock? None of this matters. At least it doesn’t matter in the long run.

The company defines its mission statement as follows:

“The Walt Disney Company’s objective is to be one of the world’s leading producers and providers of entertainment and information, using its portfolio of brands to differentiate its content, services, and consumer products. The company’s primary financial goals are to maximize earnings and cash flow, and to allocate capital toward growth initiatives that will drive long-term shareholder value.”

Walt Disney stock has suffered recently as changes in the media industry limited the company mission of maximized earnings and cash flow. Fortunately for investors, though, DIS has prioritized the last part of the mission statement recently. The company is again moving capital to initiatives that will drive shareholder value in the long run. Many weaker companies limit their focus to only the next earnings report. Instead, DIS stock is doing what it takes to report higher earnings in 2019, 2020, and many years beyond.

With DIS, Content Is King

My InvestorPlace colleagues and I have emphasized the value of Disney’s content, calling it the best in the industry. Additionally, the upcoming Disney streaming service, which the company said will cost less than that of its soon-to-be former partner Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX), should serve as a formidable competitive challenge to Netflix and other streaming services.

Further, rumors have abounded that Disney is in discussions to acquire Twenty-First Century Fox Inc (NASDAQ:FOX). Our own Lawrence Meyers believes it should happen for many reasons — and I agree. In addition to the existing partnerships with Disney’s Marvel division, it combines Fox Broadcasting, FX and the streaming service Hulu, among other content properties. This merger would further bolster an already strong content library.

As mentioned in earlier stories, DIS will start a separate streaming service for ESPN. Like the Disney Channel, ESPN has also suffered as cord-cutters watch sports less often. Now, sports fans who no longer want to pay for cable will have an alternative to watching their favorite teams in bars.

The cord cutting will likely speed up with this move, as many have kept cable purely for the sports content. However, Disney can now reach these customers without the likes of Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA) or AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) serving as a go-between.

Also, the cord-cutting trend that has been hurting Walt Disney stock will now become a source of revenue. Like many cable channels, ESPN has suffered from declining viewership and bad publicity. However, the ESPN streaming service will allow the network to recapture many of its lost customers.

Wall Street Is Beginning to See Value in DIS Stock

Wall Street may already be seeing this increased value. Despite revenue and earnings misses, the Walt Disney stock price went up the day after the report. DIS stock started moving upward at the beginning of the month, more than one week before the earnings report.

Although Walt Disney stock reported earnings and revenue misses, high-level strategic moves have made this report irrelevant in the long run. Despite lower revenue and EPS numbers, the company has made strategic moves that will stop the decline.

DIS looks poised to become content king in the media industry, regardless of whether or not they acquire Fox. Best of all, Disney will not have to rely on its Parks & Resorts division to produce all of the growth.

As of this writing, Will Healy did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned stocks.

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