Peltz launched a proxy fight against Disney, asking investors to nominate him and former Disney CFO Jay Rasulo to replace current board members Michael Froman and Maria Elena Lagomasino. Disney's high profits and string of content and partnership announcements appear to be a direct refutation of Peltz's concerns about the company.
“The last thing we need right now is to be distracted by an activist or activists who have a different agenda and don't understand our company,” Disney CEO Bob Iger told CNBC's Julia Boorstin in an interview on Wednesday.
He added during his company's first-quarter earnings conference call: “We have passed the stage and entered a new era.”
Peltz, who first took a stake in Disney last year and then abandoned and then renewed his threats to fight the proxy, responded with a statement to CNBC that he would not back down this time.
“It's happened again,” Peltz's Trian Fund Management said He said in a statement. “We watched this movie last year, and we didn't like the ending.”
It was hard to keep up with Disney's announcements this quarter:
- ESPN has finally set a launch date for its direct-to-consumer service: August or fall of 2025.
- Disney has decided to buy a $1.5 billion stake in Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite. It's Disney's “biggest foray into gaming ever,” Iger told Boorstin.
- Taylor Swift's Eras Tour is coming to Disney+.
- Disney raised its dividend by 50% compared to the last dividend paid in January.
- Disney has announced that the sequel to “Moana” will be coming to theaters in November, which will likely be the biggest box office hit of the year.
- Disney is on track to meet or exceed its target spending cuts of $7.5 billion by the end of fiscal year 2024.
- The company said it expects Earnings for the full fiscal year 2024 will increase by at least 20% compared to 2023.
All of these announcements came one day after Disney announced more big news, revealing the launch of a joint project with Warner Bros. Discovery and Fox to introduce ESPN in a new package of linear networks catering to sports fans later this year. This will be the first time cable cutters and cord cutters will be able to access ESPN outside of a traditional cable package.
It makes sense for a mountain of ads to come this quarter, given activist pressures Trian and Blackwells Capital. Iger has a vested interest in overcoming critics of his performance and strategy.
Peltz has been vocal about attacking Iger's leadership as stocks have slumped in the past year, underperforming the S&P 500. Trian has launched a website, restoremagic.comwhich claims that Disney “did not deliver for shareholders.”
“It saddens me that the board did not welcome me,” Peltz said last month. “This company is not managed properly.”
Iger said he has not spoken with Peltz recently and has no intention of speaking with him. in Deposit last month, Disney said “In their decision not to recommend Mr. Peltz, the directors took into account a number of factors, including that during their two-year pursuit of a seat on the Disney Board of Directors, Mr. Peltz had not actually presented a single strategic idea to Disney.”
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