Disney bought $2.4 billion of its own stock during market freakout

Disney has unleashed the Force -- on itself.

When Disney (DIS) and other media stocks crumbled last month, the home of Star Wars seized on the opportunity to buy back its stock at what looked like dirt cheap prices.

Disney went big, aggressively repurchasing $2.4 billion shares, Thomas Staggs, the company’s chief operating officer, told analysts at a conference on Thursday.

In August, Disney stock plunged into a bear market — down more than 20% from recent highs — amid fears that even its vaunted ESPN network was being squeezed by customers cutting cable.

“The market (gave) us an opportunity to buy the stock at meaningfully lower prices,” Staggs said at Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s media conference.

“So we’ve taken big advantage of that opportunity,” he said.

It’s almost an understatement. Disney’s recent buybacks represent nearly half of the company’s total repurchases of $5.6 billion in this fiscal year.

“We figured they’d be aggressive, but not this aggressive,” said David Miller, a media analyst at Topeka Capital Markets.


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