The Disney Dilemma: Why Recent Moves Might Not Spell Relief for Investors

Stocks to sell

Much has happened with Disney (NYSE:DIS) stock since I last discussed the media conglomerate’s myriad of issues last month, but on’t assume a rebound is near. Sure, management has made some moves in recent weeks to improve the company’s operating performance, and billionaire investor Nelson Peltz’s activist investing campaign may enable him greater ability to push for changes.

Yet, while these developments all sound like steps in the right direction, don’t make that assumption. The poor performance of this Dow component remains likely to persist. Read on, to find out why.

DIS Stock, Management Moves and Peltz

Right now, Disney’s management (led by CEO Bob Iger) appears focused on getting the company moving in the right direction again. At least, based on developments that have transpired since mid-October.

Disney is reportedly nearing a deal to sell its Indian operations to Reliance Industries, in a $10 billion transaction. As analysts from Citi have argued, proceeds from this sale, plus other divestiture proceeds, could be used to finance Disney’s purchase of the one-third of streaming platform Hulu it does not currently own.

The company has also made another move, which seems like another effort to give the DIS stock price a lift. That would be Disney’s recently-released breakout of financials for its ESPN segment. As Barron’s reported, this breakout could be part of a plan to attract external investment in the sports broadcasting property.

Meanwhile, Nelson Peltz is still looking to rattle cages, and push for changes of his own. As hinted above, the activist recently received some increased support for his campaign. Isaac Perlmutter, who has been a large Disney shareholder since selling Marvel Entertainment to the Magic Kingdom in 2009, has agreed to give Peltz’s Trian Partners full voting power over his shares.

These Efforts May Fail to Have the Intended Impact

Divesting non-core assets, like the Indian business or no-growth legacy media properties like the ABC broadcast television network, is a wise move. Monetizing its interest in ESPN, which besides being a leading sports broadcaster is now in the fast-growing sportsbook space, is another move that may help maximize value for DIS stock investors.

Then again, maybe not. Even as the cash proceeds from such sales could help Disney boost its exposure to the streaming media space, remember that streaming is not a profit center right now.

Cost cutting and higher subscription prices may turn it into one, but intense competition from rival media conglomerates may limit the extent in which platforms like Disney+ and Hulu become cash cows for the company.

Speaking of price hikes, another price hiking effort (at Disney’s theme parks) could cannot boost results. The post-Covid “travel revenge” boom is now over, and higher admission prices may further dampen demand among visitors already squeezed by high inflation.

As discussed before, it’s unclear what exactly Peltz will push for that’s any different from Disney’s current turnaround efforts. By pursuing asset sales, cost reductions, and price hikes, Iger is already using the activist playbook.

Bottom Line: Keep Away for Now

In short, until Iger and/or Peltz figure out a way to tackle the company’s biggest issue (the shift from linear TV to streaming), the jury’s out as to whether stronger results will arrive in the quarters ahead.

Disney will next release quarterly results on Nov. 8. Following this, we will have a better idea of the likelihood that the current turnaround actually turns things around.

Sell-side analysts have walked back forecasts ahead of earnings. The market could use any negative aspect of the earnings release/guidance update as an excuse to sell.

Feel free to take a second look at DIS stock post-earnings, but as comeback is up in the air, and sentiment is not on your side, there’s no reason to dive into a position today.

DIS stock earns a D rating in Portfolio Grader.

On the date of publication, neither Louis Navellier nor the InvestorPlace Research Staff member primarily responsible for this article held (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article.

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