NBA In Talks With Disney To Reopen Season At Disney World In July

The NBA is in talks with the Walt Disney Co. (DIS) to resume its suspended season at Florida’s Disney World as early as July.

“The NBA, in conjunction with the National Basketball Players Association, is engaged in exploratory conversations with The Walt Disney Company about restarting the 2019-20 NBA season in late July,” said NBA Chief Communications Officer Mike Bass. “Our priority continues to be the health and safety of all involved, and we are working with public health experts and government officials on a comprehensive set of guidelines to ensure that appropriate medial protocols and protections are in place.”

According to the statement, the NBA will hold games and practices at a single site which is Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Florida. In mid-March, the sports league shut down its operations due to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The announcement comes after Disney on May 20 commenced the initial reopening of Florida’s Disney Springs. The reopening marks a first step in the phased reopening of the Walt Disney World Resort.

On May 27, three Disney-owned and -operated stores and venues are scheduled to reopen, namely: World of Disney, D-Luxe Burger (mobile order) and the Marketplace Co-Op.

Disney has seen its profit plunge 63% in the first quarter as the coronavirus-related lockdown orders forced the entertainment and media giant to close its theme parks, suspend cruises and theatrical shows, and delay theatrical distribution of films, among others.

Last week, Bryan Kraft five-star analyst at Deutsche Bank cut the stock’s price target to $128 from $147, while maintaining a Hold rating on the shares, saying that Disney is “clearly facing unprecedented headwinds” in its theme parks and studio businesses.

Kraft adds that the full recovery of these businesses to pre-COVID earnings power depends on an effective Covid-19 vaccine becoming available to everyone or the virus naturally becoming less prevalent.

Disney shares have this year lost 20% of their value and were trading at $118.02 as of the close on Friday.

Meanwhile, Wall Street analysts are cautiously optimistic about Disney stock. The analysts’ Moderate Buy consensus is divided between 11 Buys and 11 Holds and 1 Sell. The $119.90 average price target implies a mere 1.6% upside potential in the shares in the coming year. (See Walt Disney stock analysis on TipRanks).

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