Disney Adds to Its Defenses With Strong Earnings — and Taylor Swift

Shares in Disney are up more than 7 percent in premarket trading on Thursday, after the entertainment giant released blockbuster quarterly earnings and made a string of headline-grabbing announcements. (Taylor Swift! Fortnite! A “Moana” sequel!)

In short, the House of Mouse bolstered its case against the activist investor Nelson Peltz, who is seeking two board seats. The question is whether that will be enough to definitively fend off the financier.

Disney had a great quarter. Not only did it surpass analysts’ profit expectations — earnings per share last quarter beat estimates by 23 percent — but the company also promised a generous dividend and cut streaming losses more than anticipated, to $138 million.

The company also broke with precedent by giving profit guidance, forecasting that its full-year per-share earnings would increase at least 20 percent compared with 2023.

And then there were the surprise announcements:

  • Disney again sought to tap into Swift mania by landing an exclusive cut of the pop star’s “Eras Tour” concert movie for Disney+. (Swift’s announcement of the film garnered six million likes on Instagram.)

  • The company also invested $1.5 billion in Epic Games as part of a deal to create a Disney-themed universe connected to Fortnite.

  • Disney confirmed that it would finally introduce the flagship streaming version of ESPN, including its primary programming and sports betting in 2025.

  • And the entertainment giant said a sequel to “Moana,” the 2016 hit that according to Nielsen was last year’s most-streamed movie, would hit theaters in November.

Bob Iger, Disney’s chief, trumpeted the results, and suggested that these moves had been in the works before Peltz began his latest activist campaign.

“Just one year ago, we outlined an ambitious plan to return the Walt Disney Company to a period of sustained growth and shareholder value creation,” Iger said. “Our strong performance this past quarter demonstrates we have turned the corner.”

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