Walt Disney Co. has joined the ranks of the direct-to-consumer streaming giants Netflix Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. with the launch of Disney+, analysts say.
Disney DIS, +11.54% shares jumped 11.5% in Friday trading after the entertainment giant gave details about the streaming service during its investor event. Disney+ is scheduled to launch on Nov. 12 at a cost of $6.99 per month. The service will focus on family-friendly shows and films, including a program based on the Star Wars franchise, all 30 seasons of “The Simpsons” and Pixar content. That is cheaper than rival Netflix, which charges $13 per month for its most popular streaming plan.
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The move was a major factor prompting an upgrade of Disney stock to outperform from market perform at BMO Capital Markets. Other reasons for the upgrade include the addition of two Star Wars-themed attractions at U.S. theme parks and potential buyback programs over the next year.
“Bull case would likely be driven by a series of upward direct-to-consumer subscriber revisions through 2020 and 2021 and general belief by investors that Disney has joined Netflix NFLX, -4.49% and Amazon AMZN, -0.05% as global OTT [over the top] subscription video leaders, and to a lesser extent, YouTube and others as a still-dominant platform for kids and family entertainment,” BMO analysts said.
Disney expects the service to grow to between 60 million and 90 million subscribers globally by fiscal 2024. One-third are expected to be in the U.S.
“We continue to like Netflix and Amazon more than Disney, but are comfortable recommending all three, as we expect them all to be long-term winners in global direct-to-consumer streaming,” BMO said.
BMO raised its price target on Disney to $140 from $114.
J.P. Morgan analysts still have questions, but they’re optimistic about the prospects for the new service.
“While profitability in the product is not expected until fiscal 2024 (which may prove conservative), overall we walked away from the meeting very encouraged about the outlook and its likely success,” J.P. Morgan wrote.
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Thanks to the low price and appealing content, J.P. Morgan expects subscribers to jump on the service right away.
“Combining this rapid ramp with ongoing growth in the core underlying business and synergies from the Fox deal, we have strong conviction that shares of Disney are well positioned to outperform ahead,” analysts said.
J.P. Morgan rates Disney shares overweight, after previously being not rated. J.P. Morgan’s price target is $137.
Disney’s vast entertainment properties, in addition to the new direct-to-consumer business, will position it to be a global player, Fitch writes.
“The robust content and IP portfolio, along with control of Hulu and the expansion of Disney’s international footprint, provides a stronger monetization path for its direct-to-consumer strategy,” Fitch writes.
“Disney’s overall reach and international brand is strengthened by leveraging its ownership of Hulu in the U.S. and Star in India, providing a distribution platform for content not distributed through the planned Disney or ESPN direct-to-consumer platforms.”
ESPN+ launched about a year ago.
Disney stock has gained 18.6% during 2019 so far while the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +1.03% has gained 13.2% for the period.