Walt Disney Co’s chief financial officer Jay Rasulo said Thursday that the entertainment giant plans a huge share buyback in 2014 that could amount to as much as $8 billion.
That would double the size of Disney buybacks in recent years, and Rasulo stressed that doing so reflected confidence in the company’s strength and return on investments, and would not weaken its finances.
“We’ve been buying at the pace of $4 billion for the last couple of years. And we really see the opportunity, given where our share price is, given where capital markets are, to target at least $6 and possibly up to $8 billion in buybacks” next year, he told analysts at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference.
“I want to emphasize that we won’t do this and don’t need to do this by bringing our debt rating down,” he said.
“We’re very, very conscious of the strategic value of our single-A rating; we think we can accomplish that buyback while maintaining that single-A rating even though we will probably be doing some borrowing at the tail end to provide the capital for that plan.”
“But I think that if the market conditions continue where they are and things turn out as we think they will, that’s our plan and target for next year.”
Disney owns the famed eponymous amusement parks and resorts; the 85-year-old Walt Disney Studios; the large ABC television network; and ESPN, the sports media giant.
The company’s shares jumped 3 percent on Rasulo’s comments, trading at $65.67 late in the afternoon, and were up 32 percent for the year.
[Image via Agence France-Presse]