/Disney+ must succeed for the sake of the stock, investor says ahead of earnings

Disney+ must succeed for the sake of the stock, investor says ahead of earnings


There’s a lot going on at the Mouse House.

The Walt Disney Company is scheduled to report fourth-quarter earnings after Thursday’s closing bell, just five days before the launch of its Disney+ streaming platform.

Shares of the entertainment colossus have lost some steam since they surged about 16% on Disney’s announcement of the new service on April 11, losing just over 4% in value since the beginning of May. The stock is nevertheless up nearly 20% year to date, just shy of the S&P 500’s nearly 23% gain.

One investor is looking farther out than Disney’s fourth quarter for proof of execution, however.

“This is really a non-event quarter,” Mark Tepper, president and CEO of wealth management firm Strategic Wealth Partners, told CNBC’s “Trading Nation” on Wednesday. “Next quarter is really the show-me quarter, with Disney+ rolling out next week.”

While Tepper acknowledged that Disney’s current level — $131.27, as of Wednesday’s close — was a “great” entry point for buyers and at the “low end” of his firm’s fair-value range for the stock, Disney+ will be key in determining where the stock goes from here.

“The stock … [is] trading in the same exact spot today that it was post-announcement,” Tepper said. “What you saw happen is the forward multiple expanded from about 16 to right around 24, so that’s 50% higher. So, the success of Disney+ is really necessary to keep the multiple at these current levels. But I do think it’s going to be successful.”

Between the Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu bundle and the “world-class content” under Disney’s umbrella, Tepper felt the company would be able to put up impressive results for Disney+ as early as next quarter.

“I’m expecting big numbers in that first quarter,” he said. “Right now, their guidance is … 60 to 90 million subscribers within the first five years, so the guidance they’re giving us is pretty long and that’s what’s being built into the stock. So, I don’t think they necessarily have to hit a home run in that first quarter, but they’ve got to show that they’re getting some traction.”

Tie those prospects into Disney’s still-strong, consumer-driven theme park business — which accounts for more than a third of the company’s revenues — and its upcoming “Frozen 2” and “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” releases, and the stock “looks very interesting right here,” Tepper said.

“We’d be buyers on a pullback,” he said.

Bill Baruch, president and founder of Blue Line Capital, said in the same “Trading Nation” interview that Disney’s stock chart shows a “breakout, plain and simple.”

“The stock is elevated here, and I like it a lot,” Baruch said. “The company’s at a bit of an inflection point, if you will. You have the streaming launch, you have the Fox integration, there were some poor theme park numbers previously. So, we’re at an inflection point fundamentally. I think it will perform over the next two quarters.”

Baruch added that the chart’s technical support levels are notably strong. Between the stock’s 200-day moving average and its previous highs, there’s a lot keeping Disney shares afloat, he said.

“I’m willing to buy into that long term. I think there’s going to be a lot of construction here, and I think it’s going to perform,” he said. “You’re going to see this stock perform longer term, looking out 10 years at least.”

Disney shares closed less than 1% lower on Wednesday.

Disclosure: Strategic Wealth Partners owns shares of Disney.

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