The Disney earnings call on February 8 revealed a lot of information, but also left a lot of items on Disney's docket unanswered for. Among the open questions include Disney's intentions for Hulu, which it may buy out from Comcast or sell, and the controversy surrounding Trian Management CEO Nelson Peltz's proxy dispute with the company's board of investors.
While neither of these topics were discussed during the interview, Disney CEO Bob Iger and Peltz spoke on CNBC February 9, providing some clarity to both topics. While Iger's remarks made clear that Hulu's future is still a mystery, Peltz's appearance appeared to open the door to the proxy fight issue.
Before the Hulu question came up on the channel's "Squawk on the Street," Iger talked to host David Faber about the company's plans for streaming, including goals for ESPN's future beyond linear and when they anticipate streaming to become profitable.
“Hulu, by the way, is a very successful platform and I think a decent consumer proposition. But everything is on the table right now,” Iger said. I’m concerned about undifferentiated general entertainment, particularly in the competitive environment we're operating in, and we're going to look at it very objectively.”
Disney owns a two-third stake in Hulu, while Comcast, the parent company of CNBC, owns a remaining third in the streaming service. Under the terms of a contract signed in May 2019, Disney may require Disney to buy out the remaining share as early as January 2024, meaning Comcast will pay $9.17 billion in value. However, Iger's stated aim to minimize $5.5 billion in expense might make the service an attractive proposition.
Following Iger's interview, Peltz phoned in on "Squawk on the Street" to inform Jim Cramer that his proxy battle with Disney is over following Wednesday's earnings call.
"My dad once told me that you can only win once." Peltz said the Disney management now plans to do everything that they wanted to do. "We will be monitoring." We'll be rooting as soon as the proxy battle is over.
Peltz and Trian Management started ramping up for a proxy fight last month after Trian invested $500 million in the company and Peltz lobbied nearly 20 times to join Disney's board of directors. Among his criticisms of Disney was the company's failed succession planning, which resulted in Bob Chapek being dismissed and replaced with Iger, and the eroded of stockholder value.
Below are some links to CNBC interviews with Iger and Peltz.