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‘Tremendous Loss to America’: South Carolina is Dumping $105M of Disney Investments

The story of Disney (DIS) has been far from a fairytale of late. Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently called for CEO Bob Iger to be “fired immediately.” And now, South Carolina is pulling its state funds out of the entertainment conglomerate.

According to South Carolina State Treasurer Curtis Loftis, the decision to divest has to do with the company’s management abandoning their fiduciary responsibilities.

“I think it’s clear to anybody paying attention that there’s a structural rot inside of Disney. It’s deep, it’s pervasive, and I suspect Bob Iger, since his return as the CEO, now realizes it can’t be fixed,” he told Fox Business Digital, adding that it “does not bode well” for the future of the company.

Fox Business Digital reported that the portfolio of the State Treasurer’s Office included $105 million in Disney debt securities, which will not be renewed upon maturity. In total, Loftis is responsible for managing $67 billion in public funds.

In the Fox Business Digital interview, Loftis criticized Disney’s embrace of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria, arguing that it deviates from the core principles of investing.

“People sometimes forget that ESG has nothing to do with investing,” he said. “ESG is a speech and behavior code that was … created by the left and delivered to everybody else under these virtuous circumstances, or presumed circumstances.”

The most significant issue according to Loftis, however, lies not in the policies themselves but in the individuals at the helm of the company.

‘Tremendous loss to America’

Loftis lamented the cultural and managerial shifts within Disney, linking them to the company’s recent performance challenges.

“The sane, sober, talented, mature people are gone, and now you have the gender studies crowd running Disney,” he explained. “That’s why their movies are flops and their market cap, I think, is about half what it used to be. It’s a tremendous loss to America, we all grew up on Disney.”

At the time of writing, Disney shares trade at $93.19 apiece, reflecting a nearly 4% rise year to date. However, the stock is still down over 50% from its all-time high of $201.91 recorded in March 2021.

That being said, the situation isn’t entirely negative. In the fiscal quarter ended Sept. 30, Disney generated $21.2 billion of revenue, representing a 5% increase year over year. Adjusted earnings per share came in at 82 cents, a significant improvement from the 30 cents per share reported for the year-ago period.

‘Live to invest another day’

In a separate Fox Business interview, Loftis said that his state’s exit from Disney investments shouldn’t lead to any material impact to the company.

“We’re not going to cause Disney any real harm,” he said, “I just want other people to see that you can stand up to these people and you live to invest another day. There are plenty of good investments out there that aren’t as risky as Disney.”

In its 2022 annual report, Disney admitted that there’s “no assurance” the company will achieve its ESG goals or that its “initiatives will achieve their intended outcomes.”

The company added it’s aware the additional investments and new practices and reporting processes it’ll have to build into the business could impact its bottom line. That being said, the company may view it as a cost of doing business, as it also acknowledged that ESG matters are an increasing focus for U.S. and international regulators, investors and other stakeholders.

And it appears Wall Street experts remain upbeat about the stock.

For instance, JPMorgan analyst Philip Cusick has an “overweight” rating on Disney and a price target of $120 — around 29% above the current levels. Meanwhile, Bank of America analyst Jessica Reif Ehrlich has a “buy” rating on the company and a $110 price target, implying a potential upside of 19%.

Source : Yahoo