Daily Brief: Disney’s Not Parting With ESPN

Daily Brief: Disney’s Not Parting With ESPN

over 1 year ago3 mins

Mentioned in story

Disney said over the weekend that it’s going to hold onto ESPN, despite calls to sell the sports network.

What does this mean?

The term “activist investor” doesn’t refer to an eco-warrior with a penchant for stocks: it’s an investor who buys into a company with the aim of changing it – by selling an arm of the company’s operations, for example. That’s exactly what activist investor Dan Loeb called for Disney to do after his hedge fund amassed a $1 billion stake in the media conglomerate last month. Spinning off ESPN – and its stagnating growth – could help the company reduce its mammoth $46 billion debt, but Disney sees things differently. The company boasted of ample interest from parties keen to buy ESPN – a sign, Disney claimed, of the network’s potential. Disney even has some hot new directions for ESPN on the cards apparently, including a betting app designed to boost viewer engagement.

Why should I care?

Zooming in: Why kill the goose that laid the golden egg?

Even without those plans, holding onto ESPN makes sense right now. See, traditional TV is a losing game these days, but ESPN’s cable offering was still beamed to about 75 million US homes last year – bringing in nearly $10 billion annually before you factor in ad deals. With cash like that, Disney has ample room to keep developing Disney+ – and little incentive to ditch ESPN.

Disney overtakes Netflix

The bigger picture: Disney’s kiss might turn this frog into a prince.

Loeb backed down after hearing the news, maybe because he realized Disney might just make good on its promises. After all, its total subscriber count has now overtaken Netflix's, and its success looks set to continue: Disney delighted fans over the weekend by revealing its content slate, including trailers for sequels to its Avatar and Black Panther cash cows. And with the company set to maintain its $30 billion content budget and speedy production schedule, there’s likely plenty more where that came from.

Keep reading for our next story...

Honey, I Shrunk Europe’s Biggest Economy

Germany image

Economists warned on Monday that Germany’s economy could shrink next year.

What does this mean?

Germany’s robust economy did shrink in pandemic-plagued 2020, it’s true, but those were extremely hard times. But it doesn’t look like the next year will be any easier on Europe’s biggest economy: extortionate energy prices – a result of Russian restrictions – have been taking their toll on Germans’ disposable incomes, and Munich’s Ifo Institute believes those prices could tip the country’s inflation to average 8.1% this year and 9.3% the next. That’s a big blow – big enough that the economic research group doubts the government’s $65 billion relief package will do much to offset the hit. Everyday folk will be left with less cash to splash on nice-to-haves, then, which won’t help the shortage-stricken economy. That might be why the institute predicts the German economy will grow just 1.6% this year before shrinking 0.3% the next – only growing again when 2024 comes around.

Germany recession

Why should I care?

For markets: The US is safer...

Germany’s the rule rather than the exception, with much of Europe facing similar problems. That’ll be why Goldman Sachs thinks investors should take a break from the “dire” situation across the region, and said on Monday that US firms – mainly ones that mostly do business within home borders – are a better bet for higher returns. Looks like Goldman might be onto something: an index tracking a group of US firms with heavy links to Europe has underperformed one tracking mainly domestically-trading US firms by around 20% this year.

US companies beat Europe

For you personally: …But not that safe.

Still, there are major economic risks in the US as well as Europe, which might be why Goldman advised cautious investors to own more dividend-paying stocks with strong balance sheets and stable earnings growth. That way, investors can bring in a regular stream of income that’ll see them through any upcoming slumps in stock prices.

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