Walt Disney Co. (DIS) is increasing its dividend payment to shareholders by 50% after the entertainment company reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter financial results.
Starting in July of this year, Disney will pay a semi-annual dividend to stockholders of $0.45 U.S., which is 50% higher than its current payout.
Disney reinstated its dividend late last year after suspending it in 2020 at the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic. The company’s stock currently has a dividend yield of 0.30%.
At the same time, Disney announced a new $3 billion U.S. stock buyback plan.
News of the dividend increase and share buybacks come as Walt Disney reported strong results for the final quarter of 2023, sending its stock up 6% in premarket trading.
Disney announced earnings per share (EPS) of $1.22 U.S., which was well ahead of Wall Street forecasts that called for $1.01 U.S.
Revenue of $23.50 billion U.S. was flat compared with a year ago, and slightly below forecasts of $23.80 billion U.S.
Looking ahead, the company said that it now expects profits in 2024 of $4.60 U.S. per share, which tops Wall Street estimates of $4.29 U.S.
In its earnings statement, Disney said that it is making its biggest push yet into video games, taking a $1.50 billion U.S. stake in Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite.
Disney said it plans to work in partnership with Epic to create new games using its popular brands such as Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars.
The company also said that it plans to launch an ESPN streaming service in 2025, make Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour movie available exclusively on Disney+, and release a sequel to its hit animated film “Moana” later this year.
Disney lost customers on its streaming platform during the quarter, but revenue rose due to an increase in subscription prices.
Lastly, Disney said that it will cut costs by at least $7.50 billion U.S. by the end of this year as it continues to streamline its operations.
Before today (Feb. 8), the stock of Walt Disney Co. had declined 11% over the last 12 months and was trading at $99.14 U.S. per share.