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Disney beats earnings forecast as shares surge

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Walt Disney exceeded Wall Street’s earnings projections, propelled by robust performances at its theme parks and ongoing cost-cutting measures, despite falling short of revenue estimates.

In addition to surpassing earnings expectations, Disney’s board of directors approved a $3 billion share repurchase program for the current fiscal year and announced a dividend of 45 cents per share, payable on July 25 to shareholders of record on July 8.

This represents a 50% increase from the previous dividend paid in January.

The company reported earnings of $1.22 per share, excluding certain items, surpassing analysts’ consensus forecast of 99 cents per share for the October to December period.

Following the earnings report, shares surged more than 7% after hours to $106.70.

Relatively flat

Although quarterly revenue remained relatively flat compared to the previous year, at $23.5 billion, it fell short of projections of $23.6 billion.

Disney disclosed that it had slashed $500 million in costs across its business during the quarter and remains on track to achieve or exceed $7.5 billion in savings by the end of the fiscal year.

The conglomerate faces pressure from activist investor Nelson Peltz, who is advocating for increased profitability in its streaming business, enhanced box office performance for its movies, and greater transparency regarding plans to bolster ESPN as a dominant digital platform.

CEO Bob Iger expressed confidence in Disney’s trajectory, stating, “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. Our strong performance this past quarter demonstrates we have turned the corner and entered a new era of growth for our company.”

Record revenue

Disney’s Experiences unit, encompassing theme parks and consumer products, achieved record revenue, operating income, and operating margins.

The company reaffirmed guidance that its streaming business would reach profitability by September, with streaming operating losses reduced to $138 million in the quarter, a significant improvement from the previous year’s nearly $1 billion loss.

Despite shedding 1.3 million Disney+ subscribers, double analysts’ forecasted losses, following an October price increase, Disney remains optimistic about subscriber growth, projecting an increase of 5.5 million to 6 million subscribers in the second quarter.

The Entertainment unit’s streaming business, inclusive of Hulu and Disney+ Hotstar in India, reported revenue of $5.5 billion, slightly exceeding forecasts and marking a 15% improvement from a year ago.

7% decline

However, overall revenue for the Entertainment segment, covering Disney’s traditional TV business, streaming, and film, declined by 7% from a year earlier to $9.98 billion, impacted by lower ad revenue at ABC and decreased fees from cable subscriber losses.

Disney’s sports division saw a 4% revenue gain from a year ago, driven by ESPN, the ESPN+ streaming service, and Star in India, although operating losses deepened at Star in India.

Notwithstanding challenges, Disney’s theme parks unit reported robust revenue of $9.1 billion and operating income of $3.1 billion, buoyed by successful openings at Hong Kong Disneyland and Shanghai Disney Resort.

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Are U.S. voters rebuking Joe Biden over his Israel policy?

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The Israel-Hamas War is entering a sixth month.

During a recent trip in New York, President Joe Biden was asked when a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas might start.

He said he hopes a pause in hostilities can take effect in the coming days to allow for remaining hostages to be released.

Jonathan Tobin, the editor-in-chief of Jewish News Syndicate joins Veronica Dudo. #IN AMERICA TODAY #featured #IsraelHamas #war #Israel #Hamas #ceasefire

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Putin threatens West with nuclear strike

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a direct threat to employ nuclear weapons against the West, accusing NATO and the United States of preparing to strike Russia.

Putin delivered this ominous warning during his annual address to the nation, raising global tensions to unprecedented levels.

During his speech, Putin accused NATO and the US of deceptive maneuvers, alleging their intentions to launch an attack on Russian territory.

He emphasised Russia’s readiness to defend itself, boasting of its modernized nuclear arsenal and asserting the capability to defeat any potential aggressors on their own soil.

The Russian leader’s words carried a chilling reminder of the destructive power at his disposal, stating, “They have to understand that we also have weapons, weapons that can defeat them on their own territory.”

Such rhetoric underscores the grave risk of escalating conflict and the potential catastrophic consequences of nuclear warfare.

Nuclear war

Putin warned that the deployment of troops to Ukraine by NATO countries could lead to a real risk of nuclear war.

He emphasised Russia’s determination to strengthen its military presence in response to perceived threats from neighboring nations aligning with Western alliances.

In addition to military concerns, Putin criticized Western efforts to engage Russia in an arms race, vowing to bolster Russia’s defense capabilities while accusing the West of attempting to weaken the country economically and politically.

Despite escalating tensions and global condemnation of Russia’s actions in Ukraine, Putin sought to rally support domestically, praising Russian unity and resilience in the face of adversity.

He portrayed Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine as a defensive measure to safeguard national interests and protect Russian citizens.

Putin’s aggressive stance towards the West underscores the deepening rift between Russia and Western powers, raising fears of a potential conflict with far-reaching consequences.

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FAA gives Boeing 30 days to fix 737 MAX program

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The Federal Aviation Administration has issued Boeing a 90-day deadline to devise a comprehensive plan for enhancing quality control procedures after a recent incident involving a 737 Max aircraft.

Less than two months following an alarming occurrence where a door plug blew out of a 737 Max aircraft just nine minutes into an Alaska Airlines flight, the FAA has demanded Boeing to present a thorough strategy to address quality control deficiencies.

The incident, which took place on Flight 1282, revealed that essential bolts required to secure an unused door panel on the nearly new aircraft were missing, according to a preliminary investigation conducted earlier this month.

The door plug had been removed and reinstalled at Boeing’s Renton, Washington, factory where the 737 Max is manufactured.

This incident adds to a string of production issues plaguing Boeing’s flagship aircraft.

Action plan

In response to the FAA’s directive, Boeing affirmed its commitment to developing a comprehensive action plan with measurable benchmarks.

The aerospace giant assured that its leadership is fully dedicated to meeting this challenge head-on.

FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker emphasized the need for Boeing to implement substantial and enduring improvements, emphasizing that foundational changes will necessitate ongoing commitment from the company’s leadership.

The FAA intends to hold Boeing accountable at every stage of the process, ensuring that mutually agreed milestones and expectations are met.

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