Disney set to report fourth-quarter earnings after the bell

A Disney cast member welcomes guests to Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort on July 11, 2020.
(Photo by Matt Stroshane/Walt Disney World Resort via Getty Images)

Disney is set to report earnings for its fourth quarter of 2020 after the bell on Thursday.

Here are the key numbers:

  • Loss per share: 71 cents expected, according to Refinitiv survey of analysts
  • Revenue: $14.20 billion expected, according to Refinitiv

The company continues to feel the strain of public health restrictions on its theme parks business and recently reorganized the company to prioritize streaming video.

Last month, California advised Disney and other theme park operators that they could not reopen until daily coronavirus cases fell below 1 in 100,000 in the surrounding county. Disneyland Resort President Ken Potrock called the guidelines “unworkable” in a statement following the announcement.

The executive director of California Attractions and Parks Association indicated the group would explore legal action in light of the restrictions. The trade group represents Disneyland Resorts and other parks including Universal Studios, which is owned by CNBC parent-company NBCUniversal.

The closures have forced Disney to cut back on costs. In September, Disney announced that the parks, experiences and consumer products division would lay off 28,000 workers. Disney has been able to reopen its theme parks in Florida, Shanghai, Japan and Hong Kong with limited capacity. However, Paris Disneyland was forced to close in late October and will not reopen until 2021.

Meanwhile, Disney announced a restructure of its media and entertainment divisions in October. Disney said it would centralize its media businesses into one organization tasked with content distribution, ad sales and its Disney+ streaming service.

CEO Bob Chapek told CNBC’s Julia Boorstin at the time that Disney was “tilting the scale pretty dramatically” toward streaming.

But, he said, the change was not “a response to Covid.”

“I would say Covid accelerated the rate at which we made this transition, but this transition was going to happen anyway,” Chapek said at the time.

Analysts will also be eagerly awaiting details about how the company’s film “Mulan” fared on the streaming platform during the quarter. The $200 million film was slated for release in March, but was postponed several times before being dropped on Disney+ as a premium $30 rental. Disney is expected to provide more information about the film’s performance during its earnings call.

Disney has shuffled a number of film releases into 2021 following a sharp rise in coronavirus cases in the U.S., as well as lackluster audience traffic and ticket sales. While most of its planned theatrical releases remain poised for runs in theaters, the company’s Pixar feature “Soul” will arrive on Disney+ in December for free.

Top tier releases like “Soul” could help bolster subscription numbers, further supporting Disney’s streaming push.

This story is developing. Check back for updates.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent company of Universal Studios and CNBC.

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