Disney’s CEO Is at a Crossroads as the Company Faces Earnings May 11

DIS stock - Disney’s CEO Is at a Crossroads as the Company Faces Earnings May 11

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Disneyland may be the happiest place on earth — at least, that’s what the marketing says. But if you’re holding onto Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) stock over the last few months, you’re likely not a happy camper.

Disney stock was the worst performer in 2021 among the 30 stocks that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average, falling 31%. New CEO Bob Chapek, who is feuding with former Disney CEO Bob Iger, is definitely on the hot seat.

And unfortunately for investors and for Chapek, it’s been more of the same so far in 2022. Disney is down another 31% ahead of its first quarter earnings report, expected to drop before the opening bell May 11.

One of the biggest challenges for Disney right now is its battle with Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis. The governor championed and then signed a bill into law that strips Disney of its special district status that it used to govern itself.

Because it loses its right to operate a self-governing jurisdiction, it won’t be able to run its own city around its Orlando complex of parks — and instead will rely on unfriendly governments to do so.

But fortunately, Disney is much bigger than just its amusement parks. It is an entire entertainment conglomerate, with a streaming TV service, ownership of the ABC and ESPN family of networks, and owners of some of the hottest motion picture assets on the planet.

So while Disney executives will likely gloss over its problems with Florida state officials in their conference call with analysts tomorrow, you’ll likely hear a lot about some other topics.

For instance, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the latest chapter in the Marvel movie universe, had a blockbuster opening weekend last week. The second stand-alone movie featuring Benedict Cumberbatch’s Dr. Strange brought in $185 million in its opening weekend.

Disney has to be excited about the weakness that Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) is showing in the streaming wars. If it can manage to show gains in its streaming service and gain ground on Netflix, it will have a huge impact on DIS stock.

I’m not overly concerned about Disney’s spat with Florida. But I’m also not fully confident in Chapek’s leadership, as Disney has definitely been struggling with him at the helm.

Disney’s numbers tomorrow will be fascinating. But Chapek will need to issue some solid guidance, as well as a convincing plan for the company to get there, before investors and analysts start jumping back on the DIS stock bandwagon.

On the date of publication, Patrick Sanders did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

Patrick Sanders is a freelance writer and editor in Maryland, and from 2015 to 2019 was head of the investment advice section at U.S. News & World Report. Follow him on Twitter at @1patricksanders.


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