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Walt Disney Recordings Registers annual profits



Walt Disney


DIS -0.90%

CEO Robert Iger continued to shed the company's digital future to investors on Thursday, although the company reported a year with great success for traditional film releases such as "Black Panther."

Mr. Iger predicted an accelerated timeline for the mega that drives the strategic shift to streaming, telling Disney's acquisition of major assets

21st Century Fox


FOX 0.66%

may close "meaningful earlier" than mid-2019 date previously announced.

The tie will allow Disney to launch a live entertainment service where TV shows based on Disney concerts such as "High School Musical" will stream along with Fox's National Geographic branding program that combines two entertainments in a way that can rewrite Hollywood economy like traditional studios, launching new competitors from Silicon Valley and Netflix Inc.

Disney's 71.3 billion US acquisition of Fox contributes to the company's press for a direct-selling offer with studio movies and television shows. On a earnings call Thursday announced the financial year's results, Mr. Iger revealed the name of the service for the first time: Disney +.

Despite Mr. Iger focusing on future consumer consumer models, some of Disney's most traditional businesses, theme parks and movies, drove the company to record recordings in the just completed fiscal year.

As it has been for several quarters, Wall Street was focusing on Disney's future as streaming competitor for Netflix, a strategy being replicated by its competitors. AT & T Inc., which earlier this year closed its acquisition of Time Warner Inc., operates a direct-to-customer service with its HBO channel and other inventories. Technical companies like Apple Inc. have moved aggressively into entertainment programming in recent months.

Disney insists that its library of sweet characters and franchises will be enough to entice consumers who already pay monthly subscriptions to Netflix or maintain their cable packages.

The company has said that the service, to be launched by the end of 2019, will include programming that includes new Star Wars series from its Lucas film division and superhero movie from Marvel Studios. Disney's other two entertainment divisions – Disney Animation and Pixar Animation – will be represented on the service, as well as programming from National Geographic, which Disney will acquire as part of the Fox Agreement.

"It will be very brand-centered," said Mr. Iger.

Disney has announced programming for the recently called Disney + Piece, and more information comes: The company said it would host investors in April for a presentation of streaming service plans. A website that markets the service went live during Thursday's earnings call.

In addition to its Disney-branded service, the company will also manage ESPN +, released earlier this year after several quarters of unsuspecting subscription numbers for ESPN's cable channel, and Hulu, as it gets majority control in the Fox agreement.

The Disney Fox Agreement will reduce the number of major Hollywood studios to five from six. Disney will produce some movies solely for streaming service, while distributing features with traditional theatrical releases; but Mr. Iger said he has no plans to shorten the time window between a movie's theatrical debut and home availability.

Earlier this week, the EU Antitrust Authority approved the Disney-Fox bond, although some international jurisdictions have yet to weigh in.

The $ 71.3 billion price tag on the deal is expected to shrink by more than $ 20 billion with the sale of Fox's stake in European pay-TV operator Sky PLC to Comcast Corp. and a Ministry of Justice's mandate to sell Fox's regional sports network. Fox and News Corp, the parent company of The Wall Street Journal, share common ownership.

Despite losing Sky's efforts to Comcast, Disney will roll out Disney + in Europe, says Mr. Iger, and the company plans to introduce Hulu to more foreign markets when it is assumed to be multi-party.

The performance for the three months ended September 29 increased 33% to $ 2.32 billion, or $ 1.55 per share, while revenue rose 12% to $ 14.14 billion. Excluding non-recurring items, Disney earned $ 1.48 per share.

Analysts investigated by FactSet, expected $ 1.34 per share in adjusted earnings of $ 13.73 billion in revenue.

Disney reported a record annual profit of $ 12.6 billion at $ 59.43 billion in revenue, compared with a profit of $ 8.98 billion and $ 55.14 billion in revenue the previous year.

Disney has released five of the top 10 wholesale films in 2018; The fiscal year, which ended September 29th, included giant hits like "Black Panther", "Avengers: Infinity War" and "The Incredibles 2", three films that collected a total of nearly $ 2 billion in ticket sales in the US and Canada. Operating revenues for Disney's studio entertainment division increased 27% from last year.

Disney's division chief operating revenue rises 18% as a meeting and prices continued to rise at its home location.

Disney also said it took a $ 157 million write-down on the investment in Vice Media, which plans to cut the workforce by up to 15% to combat stalling.

Write to Erich Schwartzel at erich.schwartzel@wsj.com and Maria Armental at maria.armental@wsj.com


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