On the same day that Shanghai Disneyland reopened at a fraction of its typical capacity after a nearly four-month closure, Disney tapped the debt markets for a series of notes that come due between 2026 and 2060.
The debt raise spurred a new round of ratings commentary on Disney from the major credit arbiters. Fitch Ratings gave the debt issue a grade of A minus with a negative outlook given the short-term headwinds facing the company.
“Disney has the ability to mitigate the impact to cash flow and liquidity through a variety of levers. Fitch expects that the company will reduce discretionary capital expenditures and anticipates total capex of approximately $4.4 billion during fiscal 2020,” Fitch wrote. “In addition, content production has been halted, and there will be a positive short-term cash benefit owing to the high upfront costs associated with these projects. Fitch believes these factors will significantly offset the pressure from short-term operating income shortfalls. Nonetheless, Fitch does expect that Disney will report negative FCF of approximately $4 billion in fiscal 2020 before rebounding in fiscal 2021 to approximately $2.3 billion of FCF generation.”
The sudden shutdown of other Disney theme parks and resort operations around the world has hammered Disney hard, given the importance of those businesses to the company’s bottom line. The world’s largest media company has instituted furloughs and senior executive pay cuts to weather the storm.
“This is a first step, it’s a baby step, but we’re very encouraged by what we’re seeing in Shanghai,” Disney CEO Bob Chapek told CNBC on Monday. He would not offer a timeline yet for re-opening Disney parks in Anaheim, Calif., or Orlando, Fla.