Disney cheers Wall Street with streaming growth
A Disney+ signage on display. /CFP

A Disney+ signage on display. /CFP

Walt Disney earnings on Thursday topped Wall Street forecasts for the most recent quarter as its streaming services picked up more customers than expected and pandemic-hit U.S. theme parks returned to profitability.

Shares of the entertainment company rose 5 percent in after-hours trading. Before the earnings report, shares were roughly flat from the start of the year.

Disney Chief Financial Officer Christine McCarthy said that upcoming theme park reservations at the company's two U.S. parks remained strong, even as COVID-19 cases surge.

Florida, home to Walt Disney World, is the epicenter of the latest U.S. COVID-19 outbreak, posting record cases and hospitalizations in recent days.

For April through July 3, Disney posted earnings per share of 80 cents, excluding certain items. Wall Street had expected 55 cents, according to the average projection of analysts surveyed by Refinitiv.

Disney's theme parks welcomed more visitors as pandemic restrictions eased. Theme park revenue rose for the first time in five quarters, hitting $4.34 billion.

The company has staked its future on building streaming services to compete with Netflix in the crowded market for online entertainment.

Its three online subscription offerings, Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+, gained close to 15 million new subscribers to total nearly 174 million. Subscribers to Disney+ more than doubled from the same period a year earlier.

Disney said it was continuing to deal with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. It expected costs related to the pandemic to total about $1 billion in the current fiscal year.

(With input from Reuters, AFP)

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