Walt Disney Co (DIS) Eases FBR’s Fears Following $74 Million Upside in Parks

Yesterday evening, Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS) released its fiscal first quarter earnings of 2017 that was mixed between a revenue miss, but an EPS beat. In reaction, FBR analyst Barton Crockett is chiming in from the sidelines, reiterating a Market Perform rating on DIS with a price target of $116, which represents a just under 6% increase from where the shares last closed.

For the first fiscal quarter of the year, the entertainment giant saw a 3% decline in sales year-over-year to $14.8 billion, which missed Crockett’s forecast by almost $500 million, as he criticizes “shortfalls in every segment except studio.” However, though segment profit of $3,956 million experienced a 7% dip year-over-year, it outclassed the analyst’s projection by $88 million, which he largely attributes to the $74 million upside in parks and resorts as well as improved margins “across the board.” In fact, in a quarter of challenging comps, parks was the only segment that marked growth for Disney. Meanwhile, though EPS of $1.55 stepped down 5% year-over-year on an adjusted basis, the results outperformed the analyst’s expectations by $0.10 as well as beat the FactSet consensus estimate of $1.50.

Crockett notes, “Cable affiliate fervor dimmed. DIS’s stock has suffered volatility from minor changes in affiliate fee trends at ESPN. DIS seems to be seeking to cool this fervor by shining less light on it: Now the company is only disclosing affiliate fee trends for Media Networks, which combines both cable and broadcast, obscuring cable by combining that affiliate line with the stronger growth story in broadcast from retrans.”

In terms of “beautiful parks,” Crockett cheers that even in face of the odds, “Revenues rose 6%; operating profit jumped 13%, despite a 700-bp drag from Hurricane Matthew and unfavorable winter holiday timing.”

Looking ahead to the debut of live action movie of Beauty and the Beast, Disney is wagering good odds on its public appeal, considering the aggregate trailer views can stand their own against even the most blockbuster Marvel movies. Though it’s difficult to compete with last year’s one-two punch of Frozen coupled with Force Awakens, Crockett spotlights growth as the second half will benefit from Cars and Spiderman.

The analyst adds that though the giant is king of content, issues arise with comparisons to an illustrious track record, explaining, “DIS is an extraordinary content producer entering a state of OK, but unexceptional, growth because of tough comps to past successes.”

Ultimately, “DIS’s F1Q17 was a little better than we feared, mainly because of impressive parks margins. Despite the headline EPS beat, our estimates are little changed, and our price target is unchanged […]” Crockett concludes.

As usual, we like to include the analyst’s track record when reporting on new analyst notes to give a perspective on the effect it has on stock performance. According to TipRanks, five-star analyst Barton Crockett is ranked #316 out of 4,381 analysts. Crockett has a 62% success rate and realizes 8.2% in his yearly returns. When recommending DIS, Crockett yields 10.4% in average profits on the stock.

TipRanks analytics demonstrate DIS as a Buy. Based on 26 analysts polled by TipRanks in the last 3 months, 14 rate a Buy on DIS stock, 9 maintain a Hold, while 3 issue a Sell. The 12-month average price target stands at $113.00, marking a 2% upside from where the stock is currently trading.

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