Disney stock surges 10% as new streaming push prompts pair of upgrades

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Walt Disney Co.’s plans to get more aggressive with streaming as the pandemic hammers other areas of the media conglomerate helped earn the stock an upgrade from Guggenheim analyst Michael Morris after the company’s Tuesday afternoon earnings report. The stock is up more than 10% in Wednesday trading. Morris raised his rating on Disney shares to buy from neutral and upped his price target to $140 from $123 after Disney said it would launch a new streaming service overseas under the “Star” brand and release live-action “Mulan” as a direct-to-consumer option on Sept. 4 given disruptions to the traditional theater model due to COVID-19. “Using Disney assets to accelerate a push into DTC will likely be well received by investors,” Morris said in his Wednesday morning note to clients. “Bottom line, as we head toward an investor day (in the coming months), we expect the burden of proof to be on why Disney will not be a secular streaming winner rather than justifying the company’s ability to deliver on investor expectations.” He saw hints in the company’s language that may have signaled “a broader willingness to pursue additional opportunities” in streaming down the road, in his view. Credit Suisse analyst Douglas Mitchelson also upgraded the stock to outperform from neutral. “Overall, with new CEO Mr. Bob Chapek now indicating an “innovative and bold” further pivot to streaming, we expect Disney shares to be even more aggressively positioned as a streaming growth story (where investors have limited investment vehicles), and eventual COVID recovery play,” he wrote. Disney shares have gained 27% so far this year as the S&P 500 has risen 16%. Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.