Trading Desk: Disney Bridges The Digital Moat

Disney (DIS). My favorite Big Media stock . . . better than Netflix (NFLX), better than Alphabet (GOOG) and better Warner Discovery (WBD).

I like it because unlike these streaming-forward names, the Mouse has the home court advantage in the real world, where investment gets expensive but location really matters.

It’s all about the theme parks. NFLX can’t compete there without spending at least $4 billion just for the land . . . and even then, what would they build?

Warner lets its cartoon characters run around parks run by Six Flags (SIX) while Harry Potter lives at Universal Studios, property of Comcast (CMCSA). As yet, a Lord of the Rings park could only exist in New Zealand, which is unlikely.

That’s why DIS deserves a premium over pure streaming stocks. When streaming is hot and lockdowns cripple physical travel destinations, DIS falters. But when the economy opens back up, brick and mortar creates longer-term memories and repeat business.

DIS books as much revenue on the theme parks as NFLX makes on the streaming side. Then you’ve got the streaming channel, which has a lot of room to grow and is in fact growing fast.

Just the streaming side of the Mouse is about half a NFLX right now. And then you’ve got merchandise . . . and the broadcast channels . . . and content licensing fees . . . and comic books.

Granted, developing shows costs money. But the thing about television is once you’ve seen an episode, you’re unlikely to pay a premium to watch it again. It’s disposable. You sink the costs and then need to sink them again and again.

You need to keep maintaining and renovating the real estate, too. But evidently it’s not quite so expensive to build persistent movie sets for tourists as it is to build one-time fantasy environments for the camera.