Walt Disney Co. posted record quarterly revenue but its profit fell 51% amid rising streaming-service costs and the disappointing performance of its 21st Century Fox assets.
The third-quarter report was the first full quarter since Disney closed the $71.3 billion purchase of most of Rupert Murdoch’s Fox entertainment businesses.
Revenue climbed 33% to a record $20.25 billion but net income declined to $1.4 billion, or 79 cents per share, from $2.9 billion, or $1.95 a share, a year earlier. Adjusted earnings fell 28% to $1.35 a share.
Analysts had expected adjusted earnings of $1.72 a share on sales of $21.45 billion. In after-hours trading Thursday, Disney shares dropped 3.8% to $141.87.
“Our third-quarter results reflect our efforts to effectively integrate the 21st Century Fox assets and advance our strategic transformation,” CEO Bob Iger said in a news release.
As The New York Times reports, Disney “is trying to become less dependent on cable channels like ESPN, which are in decline because of cord-cutting, and move into the rapidly growing realm of online video, a direct-to-consumer business defined by Netflix. Disney bought certain 21st Century Fox assets to enhance its streaming plan, which includes a subscription service called Disney Plus.”
In the third quarter, the integration of the Fox acquisition was more costly than expected, subtracting about 60 cents a share from Disney’s earnings. But Iger said the results from the Fox movie studio were “well below” what Disney hoped for “when we made the acquisition.”
The newer movie assets recorded an operating loss of $170 million, after 21st Century Fox’s movie studio produced operating profit of $180 million in the year-ago quarter. Fox’s “Dark Phoenix” release, which cost an estimated $350 million to make and market, collected only $252 million at the box office.
Disney’s direct-to-consumer and international sales division, which houses its streaming services, lost $553 million in the quarter, up from $168 million a year earlier, and the company expects streaming-related operating losses to widen to $900 million in the current quarter.