Walt Disney (dis) Stocks rose Thursday after an upbeat speech to investors from CEO Bob Chapek at a technology and media industry conference late Wednesday in San Francisco.
During a question-and-answer session at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia + Technology conference, Chapek said he sees “strong” consumer demand for the group’s garden business next year, with a rebound in international park visitor numbers already underway after two years of pandemic restrictions.
He also reiterated the media group’s view that ESPN sports network is the best within the broader Disney company, after a few weeks of lobbying from activist investor Dan Loeb to consider firing it. He also noted the potential for sports betting on ESPN’s revenue and potential in the coming years.
Chuckle’s comments echoed those he made last week during the Disney Expo, where he insisted that ESPN remains “crucial” to its overall media strategy despite receiving more than a hundred inquiries from companies and investors looking to buy it.
Another request from Loeb, that Disney speed up the timing of its agreement to buy a 33% stake in Comcast-owned Hulu streaming service (CMCSA) It was also addressed at the Goldman Sachs conference, just not by Chapek.
Comcast CEO Brian Roberts described Hulu, which has about 46 million subscribers, as an “exceptional business” that is likely to not only attract a pool of competitive bidders, but also attract a price well above the agreed minimum valuation of $27.5 billion. in 2019.
Disney has 16 more months to complete the purchase or leave it to a competitor, and Chuck told the Financial Times earlier this week that he would like to finish things before the January 2024 deadline.
Disney shares were up 0.2% in premarket trading to indicate an opening bell price of $112.75 per share. Meanwhile, Comcast shares rose 0.67% to $34.70 per share.
Last month, Disney said ESPN+, the sports-focused streaming business, ended the third quarter with 22.8 million paying subscribers, with average revenue per user up 1.8% from a year ago to $4.55.
Overall, Disney said adjusted diluted earnings for the three months ending in June, the group’s third fiscal quarter, came in at $1.09 per share, up 36.25% from the same period last year and strongly topping Street’s forecast of 97 cents a share.
Disney said group revenue rose 26% to $21.5 billion, beating Street expectations, while Disney+ totaled 152.1 million subscribers, beating analyst estimates of about 3 million.