Disney Stock Is Fighting on 2 Fronts Right Now


Shares of Walt Disney (DIS -0.62%) hit another 52-week high on Monday. The next few trading days will be critical in deciding if the upticks keep coming. Disney won’t be putting out fresh financial results until May, but by the end of next week the market will get to weigh news from a key rival as well as the final results from Disney’s proxy battle with a pair of activist groups aiming for board seats and strategic changes.

Momentum is on its side right now. Keeping it that way will be that will be the challenge. Let’s take a closer look at what the House of Mouse is facing in the next few days.

Epic revelations

Social media accounts for Comcast‘s Universal Orlando resort have begun teasing an update that will go out on Thursday. All signs point to more information being released for the Epic Universe theme park that Disney’s top rival will open in Florida next year.

It’s probably too soon for an actual opening date. Construction and ride testing appear to be ahead of schedule, but Comcast may not be ready to tip its hand on that front. If anything it recently went more vague, shifting from a summer of 2025 opening to just some point next year. The next-gen theme park could very well announce later this week that it will open in the springtime of 2025 as a way to lock up future bookings for next summer, but that would be a stretch.

Comcast’s theme parks segment will likely be providing some more details on one or more of the lands that will open as part of the ambitious theme park offering. Disney will be listening.

Disney has no public plans to open a fifth theme park in Florida to compete with Comcast’s third amusement park in the state. All signs suggest that Disney will invest in expanding its existing gated attractions. There have been announcements of potential expansion at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom parks, but nothing has been confirmed. If there is something concrete to announce Disney is likely to announce it at its D23 conference in early August. If Comcast makes a convincing promotional pitch for Epic Universe on Thursday it might prompt Disney to be more aggressive in unveiling its plans at next week’s annual shareholder meeting or at its fiscal second-quarter earnings call in early May.

Image source: Disney.

Meeting expectations

Disney’s annual shareholder meeting will be on April 3, but the financial fisticuffs aren’t likely to be as dramatic as initially feared. Disney has been cranking out a healthy trickle of welcome news in recent weeks, including a blowout quarter last month. Disney has also gotten everyone from George Lucas to former CEO Michael Eisner to voice their support of current CEO Bob Iger. Even Abigail Disney — Roy Disney’s granddaughter who has called out the company’s practices before — stands behind the active board of directors. Proxy advisory firm Glass Lewis is also siding against the activists storming the castle.

The proxy battle should barely be a skirmish, but Disney can’t coast through next week’s meeting. With great upticks come great responsibilities. The stock is up 32% in 2024 after three disappointing years. Disney has every right to play up its promising slate of upcoming theatrical releases. It has a potential blockbuster coming out every month from May through December. It can play up what will likely be huge streaming activity for the Taylor Swift concert film that debuted on Disney+ earlier this month.

This is an important time for Disney as an investment. It has a rival theme park operator and a pair of activist groups to silence. The media stock is finally rolling. It can’t afford to get rocked at this point.

Rick Munarriz has positions in Comcast and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends Comcast. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.



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