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DeSantis Slams Disney As Boycotts And Fundamental Issues Weigh On Shares

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis criticizes Disney's 'woke' agenda, calls for a return to family values.

Shares of Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) have experienced a modest 1.04% increase this year, significantly underperforming the S&P 500 Index, which has seen a strong 15% rally. The stock’s struggles are rooted in fundamental issues, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has not missed a chance to highlight the company’s predicament.

There has been a boycott of Disney, both of its theme parks and movie releases, reflecting the anti-Disney stance of parents, who “don’t want an agenda shoved down their throat,” DeSantis said in “The Clay & Buck” talk show aired on Monday. 

“Do you think Disney is getting ‘Bud Light-ed’ by many people out there? … From a business perspective, it feels to me like Disney has gone woke, and Bob Iger is now paying the consequences. Do you see it that way?” co-host Clay Travis asked DeSantis, referring to the recent consumer boycott of the beer brand over the controversial promotion involving transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.

Anti-Bud Light beer graffiti is seen scrawled on the side of a trailer home on June 21, 2023, in Arco, Idaho. Bud Light parent company AB InBev, the largest beer producer by volume in the world, ran afoul of core drinkers after an effort to broaden appeal through a promotion that included transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney backfired, resulting in sales plummeting nearly 30 percent, according to published reports. (NATALIE BEHRING/GETTY)

“I really believe that parents should be able to send their kids to school, let them watch cartoons without having an agenda shoved down their throat,” the governor said. This is the reason why Florida stood up to Disney with respect to the parent’s rights and education bill, he said.

“I think that it is impacting parents’ willingness to want to take their kids to the Disney stuff,” DeSantis said.

A recent Wall Street Journal report, citing data from a travel company, revealed that this summer’s Independence Day traffic at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, was the slowest in nearly a decade. The report attributed the decline to recent price hikes and changes to park operations.

DeSantis claimed support from employees at the Orlando theme park, noting that he won Osceola County, where a majority of Disney employees reside, by a significant margin. 

“So this is really a cadre of woke executives in Burbank trying to impose this agenda down on the rest of the company,” the governor said.

The 2024 GOP Presidential candidate said Disney should look at what made the company the kind of “All American” company and focus on family and traditional values.

“They would never have wanted to sexualize children the way Disney has gone down there,” DeSantis said, referring to founder Walt Disney.

The management should understand it is wrong and also that people aren’t buying into this, the governor said. Instead, it is in the best interest of the shares that the company refocuses on its core mission and gets the “woke” out of there, he added.

In this photo illustration, the logo of Disney+ is displayed on mobile phone screen in front stock exchange screen. Disney’s stock received bad ratings from McQuarie Research with negative earnings and political fallouts under the Bob Chapek era. (HAKAN NURAL/BENZINGA)

KeyBanc Capital Markets analyst Brandon Nispel downgraded Disney’s stock from Overweight to Sector Weight in late June, citing disappointing performance of domestic theme parks, the company’s labor contract in Florida, and weak results from its direct-to-consumer streaming business. Additionally, a recent poll by Axios revealed a drop in Disney’s favorability ranking since the clash with Governor DeSantis, with the company descending 12 spots to the 77th position in terms of public reputation in 2023.

Produced in association with Benzinga

Edited by Judy Marie Sansom and Sterling Creighton Beard

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