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What’s Next for Disney and Other Big Companies in 2021

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For most companies, 2020 has been, at best, a roller coaster. The broad, uncontrollable sweep of the coronavirus, coupled with stay-at-home orders and a sharp spike in unemployment, have wreaked havoc on corporate revenues. But brighter days seem to be ahead. In early November, the S&P 500 index rose to an all-time high, and the potential for a coronavirus vaccine seemed to be rising.

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This opens the door for companies that have been greatly afflicted by the shutdown, such as Disney, to make big gains in 2021. Although the company has diverse revenue streams, its well-known theme parks haven’t had any visitors for nearly a year, and it needs those businesses open to thrive.

Not all companies have suffered equally during the pandemic, however. So-called “stay-at-home” businesses, like Netflix and Zoom, have actually benefitted from the crisis, as home viewership of programming is up and videoconferencing is now the norm for both business and family gatherings.

With 2021 right around the corner, here’s a look at what some of the largest and most well-known companies in America have planned for when 2020 is finally in the rear-view mirror.

Last updated: July 12, 2021

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Netflix

Business boomed at Netflix in 2020, as rising unemployment and stay-at-home orders created an enormous captive market for its products. However, the company hit a rough patch in its most recent earnings release in 2021, with Netflix adding just 3.98 million streaming subscribers in the March quarter, vs. expectations of 6.3 million. The company’s stock took a hit, and it’s still down over 7% year-to-date as of Jun. 20, 2021.

Looking ahead, Netflix plans to continue its growth by adding to its main product — original content. The company anticipates that its content slate will increase subscriber additions in the second half of the year. Free cash flow is anticipated to be break-even in 2021, turning positive in 2022. Once cash flow turns positive, the company anticipates repurchasing shares to benefit shareholders.

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Disney

Like most stocks, Disney got crushed in March 2020, but it then rebounded strongly, making new highs and rising over 140% over its coronavirus lows. However, as of Jun. 20, the stock remains down about 5% in 2021. Investors who bid up the stock anticipating its three main divisions — media/entertainment, cruise lines and theme parks — would recover smartly are now in a “wait-and-see” mode. The company’s theme parks have only recently reopened, and its cruise line division is just beginning to test the waters. The entertainment division has some potential huge hits awaiting release, including “Black Widow” on July 9 and “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” on Sept. 3. Its newest Marvel-based limited television series, “Loki,” premiered on June 9.

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Tesla

Tesla is one of the world’s most exciting companies, with its outspoken CEO Elon Musk and its visionary product lineup centering on electric vehicles. The stock was something else as well in 2020, rising 740%.

In 2021, the company plans to continue its massive expansion to make even further gains. Recognizing that the existing fleet of over 1 million vehicles needs additional servicing, Tesla plans to add one new service center per week, or a total of 52 in 2021.

In June 2021, Tesla launched its high-end Model S “Plaid” to better compete with Porsche and Mercedes. The car has an estimated range of 390 miles and will go from 0 to 60 in a scant 1.99 seconds.

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Facebook

Facebook is first and foremost known as the dominant social media force in American culture, and indeed in many countries around the world. However, the company has been expanding into consumer-friendly products as well.

On the product front, one of Facebook’s most exciting releases in 2021 will likely be its Ray-Ban smart glasses, developed in partnership with EssilorLuxottica. These glasses will contain Facebook apps and other content and are among the steps Facebook is taking toward the development of augmented reality glasses.

Another interesting product in the pipeline is the Facebook Smart Watch, likely to be unveiled in 2022. This device will feature cameras and integration with its image-centric social media site Instagram. One day, the smartwatch may ultimately connect with the company’s augmented reality glasses.

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Apple

Apple is both a Wall Street darling and a consumer products company that instills fanaticism in its followers. Industry observers and consumers alike eagerly anticipate every news release from Apple, trying to distill where the company is heading and what it will develop next.

Looking ahead to the second half of 2021 and into 2022, here are some of the anticipated product releases from this $2 trillion giant, some of which are only rumors at this stage:

  • iPhone 13
  • Apple Watch Series 7
  • Macbook Pro
  • Macbook Air
  • Airpods 3
  • Airpods Pro
  • iPad Mini
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Amazon

Amazon is seemingly always rolling out a new product or service, but one of its most newsworthy moments was when it announced its acquisition of legendary film studio MGM for $8.45 billion in May 2021. The company also announced that it had made a deal with the NFL and that it would begin broadcasting Thursday Night Football starting in 2022.

On July 5, 2021, Jeff Bezos will formally step down as Amazon’s CEO, but he’ll remain on the board of directors as the executive chairman.

In addition to opening additional Amazon Fresh markets with cashier-less checkout, the company’s subsidiary Whole Foods Markets announced that it has about 40 new stores in the pipeline for opening.

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Microsoft

Software giant Microsoft is planning a major upgrade for its Windows product in 2021. Codenamed “Sun Valley,” the update to the Windows 10 operating system is rumored to include a refresh of File Explorer, the Start menu and Tablet Mode, including better animations, new features and modern designs.

Many of the specifics of the upgrade are still speculative, but the Sun Valley update would be the first major improvement to Windows 10 in a few years. The new release is anticipated to reach users on or about October 2021.

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Uber

Rideshare company Uber suffered greatly during the coronavirus pandemic, and ridership is struggling to recover in 2021. However, as with many innovative companies, Uber is making strides to move beyond its original core product. The company’s well-known ride-hailing app is headed towards being a “last-mile” delivery connection, allowing users to get everything from groceries and other goods from one point to another as rapidly as possible.

As quoted in an interview with Greylock, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi stated that “The way I think about the new Uber is this: if Amazon owns “next day,” we want to own “next hour.”

with ridership down 50% globally, according to CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. However, this decline is offset at least in part by the rise in the company’s delivery business, Uber Eats, which has currently become its primary business.

Uber is investing heavily in the belief that food and grocery delivery is the wave of the future. In 2021, it will close on its announced acquisition of rival Postmates for a whopping $2.65 billion.

Uber also just recently won a major ballot proposition in California, Proposition 22, which will allow it to continue to classify its drivers as independent contractors rather than employees.

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Walmart

Walmart is the world’s largest retailer, but it’s looking to expand its reach beyond clothes, groceries and other traditional retail items. Adopting some of the more successful strategies of its competitors, Walmart is looking to integrate the entire customer experience, from issuing a credit or debit card to amping up its delivery and curbside pickup services. Supply chain and automation services are expected to cost $14 billion in 2021, up from $10 to $11 billion in a traditional year.

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Roku

Roku’s revenue soared in 2020, as stay-at-home orders due to the global pandemic forced consumers to sit in front of their TVs and mobile devices. The company is losing some of those tailwinds in 2021 as the economy opens up, but it has plans to continue to grow in late 2021 and beyond. Roku has always benefited from the introduction of third-party streaming services, such as Disney+, HBO Max and Apple TV+. However, the company has begun to diversify its offerings by rolling out exclusive and original content for its own Roku Channel. Ad revenue is how Roku makes most of its money, so the more eyeballs it can bind to its streaming platform, the more the company can continue to grow.

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