Disney reported its Q4 earnings this week, and financial analysts were unimpressed with what they heard from CEO Bob Chapek.
Citing losses in direct-to-consumer streaming, a brutal outlook for the company’s linear channels, and a stunted growth forecast, CNBC’s Mad Money host Jim Cramer boldly claimed, “[Chapek]’s gotta be fired, that’s pretty cut and dried,” while appearing on the Squawk Box.
“Even the stuff he was good at… the losses here were mind-boggling,” Cramer argued. “When you’re going over the quarter it’s stunning.”
Using the NFL as a metaphor, Cramer explained that if a football team had a negative run like the one Disney is currently experiencing, they wouldn’t hesitate to let the coach go and that the Disney board should be similarly fearless in dropping their leader.
I had faith, but there is just no doubt that he has to go. That [the earning call] was just unconscionable. And the quarter itself, the way he handled it… he made it sound like it was just a four-star quarter. Delusional.
Following Wednesday’s call, Walt Disney Company stock tumbled to a two-year low. At the end of the day, Disney’s stock closed at $86.75 per share. It’s the lowest closing price for Disney shares since March 23, 2020.
The drop is based largely on a weak forecast for the coming year. Disney is projecting growth in the high-single digits, while Wall Street’s consensus was previously 25% growth. “Rarely have we ever been so incorrect in our forecasting of Disney profits,” wrote analyst Michael Nathanson.
One of the most damning figures to come from the earnings call was a $1.47 billion loss for Disney’s streaming division, over $800 million more than the year-earlier period. While Disney added over 12.1 million new accounts to Disney+ (164.2 million total), the company doesn’t project reaching profitability on streaming until 2024, and some analysts say even that date is too optimistic.
While Cramer was unequivocal in his assertion that Chapek needs to go, the fact is that he’s a celebrity financial analyst and has no real sway over what happens at Disney. For now, at least, it looks like Chapek still has the backing of the Disney board, which gave him a three-year contract extension in June.