MarketWatch First Take: Disney’s Iger returns, and gives Wall Street what it wants. Is it enough?

by | Feb 8, 2023 | Stock Market

In Bob Iger’s first earnings report since his recent return to Walt Disney Co.
he gave Wall Street exactly what it wanted: layoffs, corporate restructuring and a move to reinstate the entertainment giant’s dividend. Iger’s return in November was heralded by many on Wall Street, who are hoping he will mirror Steve Jobs’s triumphant return to Apple Computer in 1997. Already though, the company has been targeted by an activist investor, Nelson Peltz of Trian Partners, who wants a seat on the board and has argued that Disney needed better cost discipline, that it has failed at succession planning, uses its theme-parks business to fund its streaming business, and needs to restore its dividend.

Peltz got some of what he wanted Wednesday, with Iger announcing 7,000 layoffs, a restructuring that creates three core segments and a plan that will cut costs in the non-content part of the business by $5.5 billion. Iger added that while he is recommending to the board to restore the dividend, it will be modest. “We hope to build upon it over time,” he said. He also admitted that Disney’s cost-cutting initiatives will make it possible to pay for the dividend, a strategy Intel Corp.
is using to keep paying its dividend, as well as Meta Platforms Inc.
for its massive stock buyback. Also see: Intel and Meta are shipping proceeds from layoffs straight to Wall Street. So far, investors seem to be pleased with Iger’s big news, sending Disney’s shares up at one point nearly 10% in after-hours trading on Wednesday, in the hopes that he is “restoring the …

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